Demand jumps 21% in first quarter as investment doubles: WGC
Gold demand surged to the second-highest level ever as investors piled into funds, doubling investment in the metal.
Global demand in the first quarter climbed 21 percent from a year earlier to 1,289.8 metric tons, the World Gold Council said in a report Thursday. That’s second only to the final quarter of 2012 in data going back to 2000. Still, jewelry buying slid 19 percent amid a strike by jewelers in India and as higher prices deterred buying.
Gold prices jumped 16 percent in the quarter, the most in three decades, even as demand slowed in India and China, the biggest consumers. Investors piled into bullion-backed exchange-traded products amid volatile equity markets, while the outlook for low U.S. borrowing costs and negative rates in some other countries also boosted demand for a store of wealth.
“It’s been a pretty good start to the year,” Alistair Hewitt, the head of market intelligence at the London-based council, said by phone. “You have very clear and visible strength in institutional demand, but at the same time, you have core markets facing significant headwinds.”
ETP holdings rose by 300.7 tons in the three months through March 31, compared with 22.8 tons a year earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Total bar and coin demand was little changed in the period, the council said.
Total Indian purchases plunged 39 percent to 116.5 tons as jewelers protested against an excise tax, while Chinese demand dropped 12 percent to 241.3 tons. Higher prices, as well as economic uncertainty in China, prompted consumers to delay buying gold, the council said.
Purchases should accelerate later this year, probably pushing annual demand to 850 to 950 tons in India and 900 to 1,000 tons in China, Hewitt said.
In China, investment demand will continue to grow strongly as investors seek a haven from volatility in stocks and bonds, according to Roland Wang, China director at the council. Jewelry consumption will come under some pressure because the economy continues to expand slowly, curbing demand for discretionary items, he said by phone from Beijing.
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