Flood of gold from Switzerland to U.S. stopped in August

LONDON (Reuters) - Swiss exports of gold to the United States all but halted in August while shipments to China and India rose, customs data showed on Thursday, suggesting a big transfer of bullion to New York that followed the coronavirus outbreak has run its course.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are seen at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The pandemic upended the global gold trade, shutting the vast consumer markets of Asia while triggering a rush among western investors to buy what they consider a safe financial asset.

Prices of U.S. gold futures surged above prices in other parts of the world, incentivising an unprecedented transfer of gold bars to New York.

Switzerland, the world’s biggest gold refining and transit centre, shipped 412.9 tonnes of gold worth $22 billion to the United States between March and July but just 23.7 tonnes to China, Hong Kong and India combined, Swiss customs data shows.

In August, however, U.S. shipments fell to 28.5 tonnes and were almost offset by 26.8 tonnes of gold coming into Switzerland from the United States.

(GRAPHIC: Swiss gold exports - )

Meanwhile, Switzerland exported 20.2 tonnes to India, the most since May 2019, and sent 10 tonnes to China, the first shipment since February.

But in a sign that Asian demand remains weak, Switzerland shipped no gold to Hong Kong in August and instead received 25.4 tonnes from the city.

Swiss exports to Turkey, where a devaluing lira has spurred a surge of gold investment, were at 16.2 tonnes in August, the highest since July 2017, according to the customs data.

In total, Switzerland exported 116.5 tonnes of gold in August, up from 102.6 tonnes in July.

Reporting by Peter Hobson. Editing by Jane Merriman and Steve Orlofsky