Asia Gold-China markets buzz as buyers seek cover from Evergrande risks

* India jewellers stock up for wedding, festival season

* China’s jewellery consumption could rebound 43% y-o-y -analyst

* China premiums rise to $7-$12/oz

* Low coronavirus cases could spur festival rush in India -dealer

Sept 24 (Reuters) - Physical gold demand in top consumer China rose this week as buyers sought cover from the potential fallout of the Evergrande crisis coupled with factors including a seasonal pick-up in activity.

In China, premiums rose to $7-$12 per ounce over global benchmark prices, from $5-$9 last week.

“The Evergrande debacle has caused investors to move into gold and shift gear to capital preservation,” said Bernard Sin, regional director, Greater China at MKS, adding Chinese imports could “increase drastically this month”.

Concerns over a collapse of the property developer have driven a rebound in benchmark spot rates

“People like to invest some gold as a safe-haven in China,” said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals, adding a firmer yuan versus the dollar also helped.

A weaker dollar makes bullion cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Chinese demand has been tepid overall for most of 2021, keeping prices swinging between discounts to small premiums.

Yiyi Gao, senior analyst at Metals Focus, forecast jewellery consumption to rebound 43% year-on-year and investment demand, by 33%.

“Although we expect major COVID-19 outbreaks to be avoided and consumer sentiment to remain relatively healthy, H1’s pre-emptive buying will weigh on demand in the second half.”

Activity in India got a fillip from lower prices, with premiums unchanged at $3 an ounce over official domestic prices - inclusive of 10.75% import and 3% sales levies.

A Mumbai-based dealer with a private gold importing bank said jewellers were increasing purchases in anticipation of good retail demand during upcoming festivals.

The December quarter, with its weddings and the Dhanteras and Diwali festivals, usually accounts for about a third of India’s gold sales.

“We might see a surge in demand during festivals if coronavirus cases remain low,” said a New Delhi-based bullion dealer.

Premiums were unchanged at $1.20-$1.60 in Singapore.

Demand for gold and silver has increased, given a recent fall in domestic prices, said Vincent Tie, sales manager at dealer Silver Bullion. (Reporting by Rajendra Jhadav in Mumbai, Nakul Iyer and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)