* Gold in India hit record high of 43,788 rupees this week
* India discounts rise to $14/oz versus $7 last week
* Wider virus spread will dent overseas demand- Singapore dealer
By Sumita Layek and Rajendra Jadhav
BENGALURU/MUMBAI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold in top-consumer China was offered at a discount for the first time in more than 3-1/2 years this week as the coronavirus outbreak stifled demand, while record prices in India pushed discounts to their widest in four months.
The coronavirus outbreak continued to take its toll on activity as China reported more than 78,800 infections with almost 2,800 deaths so far. Concerns about the global economy mounted as the virus spread in other countries.
China offered discounts of up to $6.8 an ounce versus the benchmark. Gold was sold at par up to a premium of $1 last week.
“Consumption is weak ... It’s purely virus fears, even if it recedes I don’t think there will be a very strong rebound because the economy will take time to recover,” said Samson Li, Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.
Global benchmark spot gold prices jumped to their highest in more than seven years at $1,688.66 an ounce on Monday, although they have since eased.
In India, discounts widened to $14 an ounce over official domestic prices this week, the most since mid-October and up from $7 last week. The domestic price includes a 12.5% import tax and 3% sales tax.
“Buyers are just making inquiries, but not placing orders due to volatile prices,” said Daman Prakash Rathod, a director at MNC Bullion, a wholesaler in Chennai.
Gold futures were trading around 42,600 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, after hitting a record high of 43,788 rupees earlier this week.
“Business was negligible this week. Jewellers are not sure how retail buyers will react to record high prices,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.
In Hong Kong, gold was offered at a discount of $0.20 an ounce to a premium of $0.40 compared with last week’s premiums of $0.30-$0.40.
“Demand is slow because of the high price. People are not up for shopping and not just for gold,” said Dick Poon, general manager at Heraeus Metals Hong Kong Ltd.
In Singapore, premiums of $0.40-$0.50 an ounce were being charged versus last week’s $0.50-$0.60.
Brian Lan, managing director at Singapore dealer GoldSilver said the global spread of the virus could dent demand from overseas buyers such as India.
In Japan, gold was sold from flat to a premium of $0.50 an ounce, unchanged from last week.
Reporting by Asha Sistla in Bengaluru and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Kirsten Donovan