LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - Swiss exports of gold to mainland China surged in April to their highest since December 2019, customs data showed on Thursday, as demand for gold in the world's biggest bullion consuming nation rebounded from a slump during the coronavirus pandemic. Switzerland is the world's largest gold refining centre and transit hub. Its numbers provide an insight into global market trends. Swiss customs data show exports of 40.2 tonnes of gold worth around $2.5 billion at current prices to China in April -- more metal than was sent in the last 14 months combined. Switzerland also sent 10.1 tonnes of gold to Hong Hong, the most since January 2020. Reuters reported last month that China's central bank had granted commercial banks permission to import large amounts of bullion in April and May and around 150 tonnes of gold was likely heading to the country. China's return to the market has helped fuel a rise in gold prices from below $1,700 an ounce in early April to above $1,900 an ounce. The customs data also showed that Switzerland exported 56.4 tonnes of gold to India in April, down from a record high of 82.6 tonnes in March. India is the second biggest bullion consumer after China. Demand there also plunged during the first wave of the pandemic but began to recover much earlier. Following are numbers for April and comparisons. SWISS TRADE DATA (KG) EXPORT (kg) Apr-21 131,413 Mar-21 134,566 Apr-20 132,030 To China To Hong Kong To India Apr-21 40,245 10,082 56,449 Mar-21 9,389 31 82,641 Apr-20 0 1 500 * Source: Swiss customs. Data subject to revision by source. (Reporting by Peter Hobson, Editing by William Maclean)
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