Swiss gold exports to China surge to 5-1/2-year high

Melted gold flows out of a smelter into a mould of a bar at a plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Swiss exports of gold to China in July rose to their highest since December 2016, Swiss customs data showed on Thursday, as demand in the world's largest bullion market improved.

Switzerland shipped 80.1 tonnes of gold worth 4.4 billion Swiss francs ($4.6 billion) to mainland China, up from 32.5 tonnes in June and the second-highest monthly total in figures that stretch back to 2012.

Gold prices slipped below $1,700 an ounce in July from more than $2,000 earlier in the year as rising interest rates triggered selling by Western investors.

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Retail consumers in markets like China often buy less when prices rise and more when they fall. China had also in July emerged from COVID-19 lockdowns earlier in the year.

The surge in shipments to China lifted Switzerland's total gold exports to 186.2 tonnes in July, again the most since 2016.

Switzerland is the biggest refining and transit hub for gold and its data offer insight into global market trends.

It shipped 15.8 tonnes of gold in July to India, another top bullion consumer, up from 7.7 tonnes in June but only around half the monthly average over the last year.

The customs data also showed that Switzerland imported 261 kg of gold from Russia, taking the total imported during May, June and July to 3.6 tonnes worth 225 million Swiss francs ($235 million).

Customs authorities have said the imports in May and June were of Russian gold but that the metal came from Britain, a major gold storage centre. They said they had no evidence that the gold was produced after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Switzerland earlier this month banned imports of gold from Russia. read more

Following are numbers and comparisons.

SWISS TRADE DATA (KG)

SHIPMENTS TO KEY MARKETS (KG)

* Source: Swiss customs. Data subject to revision by source.

($1 = 0.9533 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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