Money News

India gold discount widens to max in seven months; higher prices hurt demand

MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Gold prices in India this week recorded the biggest discount in seven months as a rebound in prices curtailed retail demand, while lower premiums in other Asian centres failed to lure customers amid seasonal slowdown.

FILE PHOTO: A salesman arranges gold ornaments, on a display board, inside a jewellery showroom during Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

“In the local market, prices have risen due to the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and a rally in overseas prices. Consumers are not comfortable with the price rise,” said Mukesh Kothari, director at bullion dealer RiddiSiddhi Bullions in Mumbai.

As part of a new nationwide sales tax regime that kicked in on July 1, the GST on gold has jumped to 3 percent from 1.2 percent previously.

“Usually demand remains weak in July. This year, the price rise has added further pressure,” Kothari said.

Dealers in India were offering a discount of up to $4 an ounce this week over official domestic prices, compared to a discount of $1 last week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent import tax.

“Jewellers are not making purchases due to weak retail demand. They have sufficient inventory for next few weeks,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank.

India’s gold imports could fall below 35 tonnes in July, consultancy GFMS said.

In top consumer China, premiums ranged from $5 to $10 an ounce. Premiums were slightly below $10 last week.

The international spot gold benchmark was trading near six-week highs hit on Thursday as the dollar plummeted after the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated it would keep to a slow path of monetary tightening.

In Hong Kong, premiums were between 50 to 70 cents, compared with the 60 cents to $1 range in the previous week.

“Demand is not expected to come back in substantial levels until a couple of weeks into August,” said Dick Poon, general manager at Heraeus Precious Metals in Hong Kong.

Physical demand dipped in Singapore as well with premiums ranging between 70 cents and a dollar as against the 75 cents to $1.10 level last week,

“Demand in Singapore has been subdued, but scrap flows and disinvestment of bars from across the region have boosted inflows,” said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS.

Meanwhile, in Japan, premiums were unchanged at 25 cents per ounce over the benchmark prices.

“With the summer holidays coming up, the slowdown in physical demand in Japan is more due to seasonal factors than because of rallying prices,” said a Tokyo-based trader.

Physical gold demand globally rose to 1,895 tonnes in the first half of 2017, up 17 percent from the same period last year, GFMS analysts at Thomson Reuters said.

Additional reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Koustav Samanta and Keith Weir