Covid might crimp nascent rebound in India’s gold demand


By Swansy Afonso

A fledgling restoration in India’s gold demand within the first three months of the yr could also be snuffed out by an explosive enhance in coronavirus infections that retains individuals at residence, damping gross sales throughout the important thing wedding ceremony season.

Purchases on the planet’s second-biggest shopper jumped 37% within the January to March interval to 140 tons after slumping to the bottom in additional than twenty years final yr, in keeping with the World Gold Council. A mixture of softening gold costs, a pointy pick-up in financial exercise and the return of social actions resembling weddings supported greater consumption, it stated.

After a record-breaking rally final yr, gold has misplaced momentum amid optimism over economies reopening and vaccine rollouts, with the advancing greenback and rising bond yields denting demand for bullion. In India, costs are down greater than 15% from a report excessive in August.

Nonetheless, demand is prone to take a success within the second quarter as the whole variety of circumstances prime 18 million, making India the second-worst affected nation on the planet. Many states have imposed restrictions on the motion of individuals and shuttered non-essential companies as infections soar. These curbs might maintain demand muted for weddings and the auspicious Hindu gold shopping for day of Akshaya Tritiya subsequent month, stated P.R. Somasundaram, managing director for India on the council.

“As lockdowns are re-imposed in numerous areas of the nation in response to rising Covid-19 circumstances, shopper confidence has dipped,” Somasundaram stated. “Folks had simply began spending and now that’s all stopped. Individuals are extra conscious that it’s spreading quick and that they must be cautious, so that may have an effect on all of the festivities.”

Higher than 2020
Digital and retail methods fashioned previously yr might cushion the drop this quarter, not like the year-earlier interval, “however the present disaster is past simply economics and logistics, subsequently, sentiment could also be affected until large-scale vaccination is achieved,” Somasundaram stated.

Full-year consumption can be higher than 2020 as vaccinations choose up tempo and the financial system recovers, he stated. More cash will movement into gold however that’s extra prone to occur solely by the final quarter of the yr, Somasundaram stated, declining to offer an estimate for 2021.

Globally, gold demand fell 23% through the first quarter to 815.7 tons from the year-earlier interval as a restoration from the pandemic drove outflows from exchange-traded funds in western markets. The decline was mitigated by strengthening demand in China and India, the world’s greatest customers.

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