Turkey’s Silver Imports Surge to Most Since 1999 as Prices Slide

Turkey’s silver imports climbed in December to the highest since at least 1999 and inbound shipments of gold rose to the most since July as the metals capped their biggest annual decline in more than three decades.

Imports of silver gained to 41.6 metric tons last month, 36 percent more than in November and above September’s amount of 39.9 tons, according to data on the Istanbul Gold Exchange’s website going back to 1999. That took the full year figure to 227.8 tons, 60 percent more than 2012 and compared with 42.1 tons in all of 2011. Gold imports increased 64 percent in December to 31.6 tons, the data show.

Silver plunged 36 percent in London last year and gold slid 28 percent, both the most since 1981, as some investors lost faith in the metals as a store of value. The U.S. Federal Reserve is slowing stimulus amid an improving economy and global equities reached the highest since 2007 this week. While investors sold bullion from gold-backed exchange-traded products, lower prices boosted jewelry, bar and coin demand from the U.S. to China.

“Some people took the opportunity of lower prices and bought remarkable amounts of gold and silver,” Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said today by phone. “Generally, prices are very attractive. Demand is very robust in Turkey and the Arab world as well.”

Silver for immediate delivery rose 3.4 percent to $20.08 an ounce by 3:42 p.m. in London. It fell to $18.8266 on Dec. 31, the lowest since July. Gold climbed 2 percent to $1,224.77 an ounce after reaching $1,182.27 on Dec. 31, the lowest since June. Last year’s drop was the first since 2000.

Turkey’s Imports

Turkey, which boosted gold shipments to Iran in 2012, became a net importer of bullion after ending exports to the Islamic Republic in July, the then Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said in August. World powers agreed in November to give Iran about $7 billion in relief from economic sanctions over six months, including the suspension of certain sanctions on gold and precious metals.

Turkey’s gold imports totaled 302.3 tons last year, more than double the previous year and the most since at least 1995, according to the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Silver imports last year were the most since at least 1999.

The U.S. Mint sold 14 percent more American Eagle gold coins last year and sales at the Perth Mint in Australia increased 41 percent. The premium to take immediate delivery gold in China was at $20.28 an ounce today, compared with an average of $16.21 in December and $18.72 for all of last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Chinese physical demand for gold remains robust,” Victor Thianpiriya, an analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore, wrote in a report today. “However, the price needed to trigger a sufficient demand response, and so a rebound in spot gold, has declined over the past 12 months. Any rallies in gold are likely to be short-lived given the likelihood of Chinese premiums compressing if price rises too far.”

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