* India premiums fall to $75-$85 an ounce on Friday
* Premiums in rest of Asia stable
* Chinese trading volumes higher on upcoming holiday
By Siddesh Mayenkar
MUMBAI, Jan 24 Gold premiums in India, the
second-biggest buyer of the metal after China, fell more than 30
percent on Friday from earlier this week on speculation about
easing of restrictions on bullion imports.
Premiums were quoted at $75-$85 an ounce on London prices
on Friday, compared with $110 on Wednesday. Premiums hit
a record high of $160 last month.
The leader of India's ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi,
has asked the government to review tough import restrictions on
gold, which include a record 10 percent import duty, local media
reported on Thursday.
India used to be the world's biggest buyer of bullion until
the government and central bank stepped in last year with import
curbs aimed at reducing a record current-account deficit.
"There is panic in the market on rumours of easing
restrictions, so premiums are down. If there is an announcement
by any chance, there will be a greater fall in premiums," said
Harshad Ajmera, director of the All India Gems and Jewellery
However, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram ruled out
any change in restrictions, saying that there will be no roll
backs until "we have a firm grip on the current account
"We will have to wait and see, (but) nothing is going to
happen in a hurry. If anything happens, it will only be in
mid-February," said a dealer with a private bullion-importing
India's budget is due to be presented in February.
Premiums across the rest of Asia remained stable, with the
Chinese still buying ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday next
In China, which celebrates the holiday starting on Jan. 31,
consumers are buying jewellery, bars and coins for good fortune
and for gift-giving.
Premiums for 99.99 percent purity gold on the
Shanghai Gold Exchange, a physical trading platform, ranged
around $10 to $14 an ounce for the week, lower than the $20 seen
earlier this month.
Weekly trading volumes as of 0845 GMT were the highest since
June, at about 88 tonnes.
(Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore;
Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)