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East-to-west flow of gold slows as Swiss exports to India rebound

LONDON (Reuters) - The flow of gold from east to west triggered by the coronavirus pandemic eased in October as Switzerland’s imports of bullion from Asia fell and it exported more to India than in any month since May 2019, Swiss customs data showed on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Liquid gold is poured to form grains at Swiss refinery Metalor in Marin near Neuchatel, Switzerland July 5, 2019. Picture taken July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Switzerland’s exports of gold to China remained at rock bottom, however, suggesting that demand in Asia is far from a full recovery.

Switzerland is the world’s biggest gold refining centre and a transit hub, and its trade data illustrate global market trends.

China and India, the biggest jewellery markets, have for years been its biggest export destinations.

But coronavirus lockdowns collapsed demand and Switzerland began instead to import gold from Asia to send to the United States and Britain, where investors stockpiled bullion to keep their wealth safe through the turmoil of the pandemic.

Swiss gold exports

This stockpiling pushed gold prices to record highs around $2,000 an ounce but the dynamic weakened in October.

Investor demand in the west slackened, Swiss imports from Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates fell sharply and exports to Britain tumbled to 19.1 tonnes from 50.9 tonnes in September.

Though Switzerland shipped no gold to mainland China and only 53 kilograms to Hong Kong, exports to India swelled to 24.3 tonnes.

In total, Switzerland exported 90.5 tonnes of gold in October, down from 105.9 tonnes in September and the least since February.

Following are numbers for October 2020 and comparisons.

Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan