Indian Gold Imports Almost Triple on Wedding Demand

Updated on
  • Jewelers are restocking for coming festivals, wedding season
  • Purchases from overseas slumped 32% in 11 months to February

Gold imports by India, which competes with China for the role of world’s biggest consumer, are said to have risen almost three-fold in February from a year earlier as jewelers increased stockpiles before the festival and wedding period that starts next month.

Shipments jumped 175 percent to 96.4 metric tons in February from a year earlier, according to a person familiar with provisional data from the finance ministry, who asked not to be identified as the data aren’t public. Overseas purchases slid 32 percent to 595.5 tons in the 11 months to February. Ministry spokesman D. S. Malik declined to comment on the data.

After a lull in demand exacerbated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to withdraw high denomination currency notes, jewelers are building up inventories. They expect to see some recovery in purchases ahead of India’s wedding season and on the auspicious Hindu gold-buying day of Akshaya Tritiya that falls toward the end of April this year.

“We expect some heavy buying in April as a large number of weddings are expected to take place,” Mehul Choksi, chairman of jewelry store chain Gitanjali Gems Ltd., said by phone from Mumbai. “The wedding season runs from April to July, so we are expecting some recovery in demand.”

While annual Indian demand should recover, year-on-year growth rates will be modest, relative to historical levels, Citigroup Inc. said in research report Wednesday. Demand is estimated around 725 tons in 2017, similar to levels seen the prior year, it said. Indians buy gold during festivals and for marriages as part of the bridal trousseau or as gifts, and the nation imports almost all the gold it consumes.

Gold prices in London fell for the third straight day on Wednesday, declining as much as 0.4 percent to $1,211.51 an ounce, the lowest level in more than a month.

(Updates to add price in final paraqraph.)
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