Swiss gold exports to China rebound after coronavirus slump

    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
    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. 
                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)