02 Dec 2013 Last updated at 00:21:07 GMT
LONDON (Scrap Monster) : China’s gold imports through Hong Kong rose to new autumn records in October, customs data showed today, as traders prepared for the now traditional New Year surge in consumer demand.
Allowing for mainland exports back to the city, net imports to China through Hong Kong reached 129.9 tonnes last month, very nearly matching March 2013's all-time peak of 130 tonnes.
Referring to October's 19% rise in net China gold imports as "stockpiling" ahead of the New Year festivities, "Some banks may have brought in shipments to fill their import quota before the end of the year," the Wall Street Journal quotes Wang Xinyou, the precious metals chief at Beijing's Agricultural Bank of China.
Import licenses for gold are strictly controlled by the People's Bank of China. Any approved importers failing to use their entire quota may, says Wang, find their 2014 permit reduced.
Year-to-date, net gold imports through Hong Kong to mainland China – now the world's No.1 consumer nation – have more than doubled from 2012 to total 956 tonnes so far.
Also the world's No.1 gold mining producer since 2007, China has mined a year-to-date record of more than 300 tonnes so far in 2013, according to latest data from the China Gold Association.
End-consumer demand for gold last year reached 832 tonnes, the Association says.
Worldwide, consumer demand for gold jewelry has risen by one fifth so far in 2013 from the same period last year, according to data compiled for market-development group the World Gold Council.
"The global gold market remains resilient," says World Gold Council director for investment Marcus Grubb, "underpinned by the continued shift in demand from West to East, strong demand in consumer categories and solid central bank and technology sectors."
But calling this year's surge in Chinese demand "abnormal", mining firm China Gold Group Corp. executive Du Haiqing this month forecast a drop in consumer purchases ahead.
"China's gold consumption will gradually cool down," he told an industry conference. "The current consumption level of over 1,000 tonnes will not be sustained and will fall to normal levels as consumers become more rational."
First deregulating China's gold market in 2002, and actively encouraging households to buy gold in recent years, Chinese authorities this August fined 5 gold retailers based in Shanghai, as well as a local trade association, for "manipulating" the price of jewelry.
Author: Paul Ploumis