* Benchmark spot gold prices face worst month in 3 years
* India prices flip to premium from $3/oz discount last week
* Hong Kong premiums ease to 10-30 cents from 30-50 cents
* Price drop below $1,400/oz likely to induce buying- analysts
By Sumita Layek and Rajendra Jadhav
BENGALURU/MUMBAI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Gold was sold at a premium this week in India as a dip in prices prompted purchases of the precious metal, while demand was soft in other Asian hubs as interest for the metal waned going into the year-end season.
Dealers were charging a premium of up to $1.5 an ounce over official domestic prices this week, compared with a discount of $3 last week. The domestic price includes a 12.5% import tax and 3% sales tax.
“Jewellers are restocking due to price correction. The retail demand is still weak,” said Ketan Shroff, managing director of Mumbai-based bullion dealer Penta Gold.
Gold futures were trading around 37,800 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, down about 5% from a record high of 39,885 rupees in September.
A sharp drop in gold imports in the last few months has been allowing banks to charge a premium, but retail demand is lower-than usual, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.
Retail demand faltered after Diwali and could remain weak unless prices correct significantly, the bank dealer said.
Premiums in China were little changed at $2.3-$3.5 an ounce over the benchmark prices from last week’s $2-$3.50.
Demand in the world’s top bullion consumer has remained subdued mainly due its tariff war with the United States that has been dragging on their economic growth. Investors fear the new U.S. legislation backing Hong Kong protesters could disrupt efforts to end the trade war.
Premiums in Hong Kong, hit by anti-government protests, eased to 10-30 cents per ounce versus 30-50 cents in the prior week.
“It’s extremely quiet. Also, demand close to year-end is not that high. I don’t think demand is going to take off unless prices go below $1,400,” said Dick Poon, general manager at Heraeus Precious Metals in Hong Kong.
International spot gold prices are on track to post their biggest monthly decline in three years. Earlier in the week, bullion prices dropped to a two-week low of $1,450.30 an ounce.
There was some buying, especially from wholesalers, when prices dipped below $1,460 an ounce “but nothing to shout about” and there could be some increase in sales from promotions for Black Friday, said Brian Lan, managing director at Singapore dealer GoldSilver.
Singapore premiums were quoted around 50-80 cents compared with 50-60 cents last week.
In Japan, gold was sold at anywhere between par with the benchmark and a premium of 50 cents. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Mark Potter)