China’s Gold Imports From H.K. Climb on Lunar New Year Demand

China’s net gold imports from Hong Kong rose in January from the previous month as jewelry demand on the mainland increased before the Lunar New Year and exports to the city tumbled.

Net imports totaled 71.6 metric tons last month, compared with 58.8 tons in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department released Thursday. Mainland buyers purchased 82.5 tons, including scrap, compared with 128.4 tons a month earlier. Exports to Hong Kong from China fell 84 percent to 10.9 tons.

The rise in net shipments to mainland China preceded the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which ended Feb. 24. In December, the value of the country’s jewelry sales surged 23 percent from the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China lost its spot as the world’s biggest buyer to India last year as global demand slid 4 percent to a five-year low, according to the World Gold Council.

“Retail demand usually picks up before the Spring Festival in China,” Helen Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Argonaut Securities Asia Ltd. said before the data was released, using another name for the Lunar New Year holiday. “I don’t expect a sharp decline in consumption in 2015 from the 2014 level. Overall demand should stabilize.”

Mainland bullion consumption fell 25 percent last year to 886.1 tons, according to the China Gold Association. The value of China’s jewelry sales in 2014 was little changed from the previous year, after growing 26 percent in 2013, according to the statistics bureau.

Gold for immediate delivery rose 0.8 percent to $1,214.97 an ounce at 4:59 p.m. in Hong Kong, up 2.6 percent so far this year. Bullion of 99.99 percent purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange has climbed 1.7 percent since the start of the year.

Net imports in January were 14 percent below the 83.6 tons the same month last year. Mainland China doesn’t publish such data.

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