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Gold demand at 14 year high in 2011; China rapidly becoming top consumer

Friday, February 17th 2012 - 01:20 UTC
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Total demand for gold in China in 2011 rose 20% to 769.8 tons compared to India’s 933.4 tons Total demand for gold in China in 2011 rose 20% to 769.8 tons compared to India’s 933.4 tons

Gold demand struck 14-year highs in 2011, driven by record investment, buying in China, which could overtake India this year as the world's top consumer, and central bank purchases, which hit their highest in at least 40 years, according to a report on Thursday.

Global demand for gold reached 4,067.1 tons last year, the highest tonnage since 1997, due in large part to a nearly 5% rise in investment demand, which hit a record 1,640.7 tons, the World Gold Council, an industry group, said in its quarterly Gold Demand Trends report.

In the last quarter of the year, China consumed 190.9 tons of gold, compared with India's 173.0 tons, ranking China top in terms of consumption, something the WGC had not expected last year.

“We were still some distance away from the possibility that China might be the larger market in annual demand terms. What we're doing, based on those figures for last year, is sticking our neck out a bit and suggesting that 2012 will be the first year that China does exceed India in terms of tonnage demand,” WGC managing director, investment, Marcus Grubb said.

Total demand for gold in China in 2011 rose 20% to 769.8 tons, driven by jewellery and investment demand, compared with a 7% fall in demand in India - the world's largest consumer - to 933.4 tons as a result of volatile gold prices and a weak rupee.

Last year, the gold price hit a record 1,920.30 dollars an ounce and swung between this peak and troughs just above 1,300 an ounce, making 2011 a year of almost unprecedented volatility and this year it has risen 10% to around 1,730.00.

In spite of such unpredictability, central banks were avid buyers of gold, with 439.7 tons' worth of purchases in 2011, more metal than at any time since the end of the gold standard in 1971, compared with 77 tons in 2010.

“It is certainly a record since 1971 and we do think the trend will continue,” Grubb said.

“It's worth remembering the buyers are not the same central banks who were sellers of gold throughout the 80s and 90s. The buyers are all ... in Latin America, Asia and the Far East and they are basically enjoying strong growth, fiscal surpluses and growing foreign exchange reserves,” he said.

He added that a number of central banks have in the past expressed a desire to raise the amount of gold they hold as a percentage of their reserves.

Categories: Economy, International.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • lsolde

    Yum yum

    Feb 17th, 2012 - 10:52 am 0
  • GreekYoghurt

    Is there a Chinese population on the Falklands?

    Feb 17th, 2012 - 11:08 am 0
  • Marcos Alejandro

    Nice to remember that Gordon sold 60% of Britain gold reserves at rock botton prices.

    Feb 17th, 2012 - 03:20 pm 0
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