Gold Imports by China Decline as Property Revival Damps Demand

China, the world’s biggest gold consumer, reduced imports from Hong Kong for the first time in three months as investors were lured by returns in the property market.

Net purchases fell to 56 metric tons in April from 64.1 tons in March, and compared with 46.6 tons a year earlier, according to data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department compiled by Bloomberg. The mainland bought 74.2 tons compared with 76.3 tons a month earlier, while exports to Hong Kong were 18.1 tons versus 12.1 tons. Mainland China doesn’t publish the data.

While shares have declined 20 percent in China this year, a credit boom has spurred a revival in the property market. New-home prices excluding government-subsidized housing climbed in 65 cities in April, compared with 62 in March, among the 70 cities tracked by the government, according to official data. That was the most cities since December 2013.

“Gold dropped under the radar as ‘hot money’ investors hunted for high-yielding investments that can pay off in the short term,” Liu Xu, a trader at the Beijing-based private asset-management company Guoyun Investment Co., said before the data were released.

Swiss exports of gold to China dropped to 14 tons in April from 29.5 tons the month before, according to the Federal Customs Administration.

China’s jewelry consumption will come under some pressure because the economy continues to expand slowly, curbing demand for discretionary items, Roland Wang, China director at the World Gold Council, said earlier this month. The country consumed 241.3 tons on gold in the first quarter, 12 percent less than a year earlier, council data show.

Gold has been one of the best-performing assets in 2016 and prices increased 4.9 percent in April, taking its advance in the first four months to 22 percent.

— With assistance by Jasmine Ng, and Feiwen Rong

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