U.K. Gold Shipments Climb Eightfold as Metal Seen Moving to Asia

Gold exports from the U.K. to Switzerland in the first half of 2013 were more than eight times the total for all of 2012 as metal was probably moved from Europe to investors in Asia, Macquarie Group Ltd. said.

U.K. gold exports were 797 metric tons in the first six months this year, compared with 92 tons for all of 2012, Macquarie said in an e-mailed report dated today. Investors sold 586 tons of gold in exchange-traded products in January through June this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Gold ETFs are part of the physical gold market and if investors don’t want the gold it has to go somewhere else,” Matthew Turner, an analyst at Macquarie, wrote in the report. “The Chinese are simply willing to pay more for it.”

Gold for immediate delivery fell 0.8 percent to $1,365.27 an ounce by 5:39 p.m. in London, bringing the drop this year to 19 percent. Bullion is heading for the worst year since 1997 after 12 consecutive gains.

Most of the world’s gold refining capacity is in Switzerland and refineries’ business was “very strong” in the first half as Asian physical demand climbed, Turner wrote.

Global jewelry demand jumped 37 percent to 575.5 tons in the second quarter, and combined global bar and coin sales advanced 78 percent from a year earlier to an all-time high of 507.6 tons, the World Gold Council said in a report Aug. 15. India is the biggest gold buyer, followed by China.

Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, the largest investor in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest ETP for the metal, cut his holdings by more than a half in the second quarter from the first three months of the year, a government filing showed last week. Billionaire George Soros and Daniel Loeb sold their entire SPDR stakes in the past quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings showed.

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