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Asia Gold-Price rise dulls retail demand in most Asian centres

* Premiums widen slightly to $1-$4 in China

* Mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery hurt trade in India

* Silver’s recent drop prompts bargain buying in Singapore

July 30 (Reuters) - Physical gold demand was subdued in India this week as rising prices discouraged retail purchases, while top consumer China saw some safety buying though jewellery sales were dull.

Dealers in India this week offered discounts up to $4 an ounce over official domestic prices, inclusive of the 10.75% import and 3% sales levies, compared to $6 discount last week.

“Jewellery stores are open, but retail buying is not picking up. This week demand fell further because of a price rise,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.

On Friday, local gold futures were trading around 48,200 rupees per 10 grams, up nearly 1.5% from a week ago.

India’s move to make hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory from mid-June has disrupted trade due to limited capacity of hallmarking centers, said Dinesh Jain, director of All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council.

But demand is likely to recover in the second half of the year as festivals and weddings boost retail purchases in the fourth quarter, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.

In China, premiums widened slightly to $1-$4 an ounce over the benchmark, compared with last week’s premium of $1-$3 an ounce.

“Earlier this week, physical gold was at a $3 discount, but after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meet, we saw some good buying interest, turning that discount back into a premium,” Bernard Sin, regional director at Greater China at MKS, said.

Global benchmark gold prices traded near a two-week high on Friday.

In neighbouring Hong Kong, premiums of $0.80-$1.80 were being charged versus $0.50-$1.70 last week, while Singapore saw premiums of $1.20-$1.50 from $1.5-$2 a week earlier.

Physical gold demand was muted in Singapore, while silver’s drop to a more than 3-month low this week prompted some bargain buying, said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central. (Reporting by Rajendra Jhadav in Mumbai and Eileen Soreng, Brijesh Patel, Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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