By Paul Ploumis 03 Aug 2015 Last updated at 00:36:37 GMT
EDGWARE (Scrap Monster): Gold demand in India beat China as the world's No.1 for the first time since 2013 in the second quarter of this year, according to the latest data.
Global consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS says "seasonal strength" between April and June saw India "reclaim the top spot in regard to total gold consumption."
Across the first 6 months of the year, however, China came just ahead according to GFMS's new Gold Survey 2015 Q2 Update & Outlook.
India was "easily the biggest consumer of all gold products in the second quarter," the report says, despite seeing no sizeable change in either jewelry or gold investment demand from a year earlier. China's household demand fell 24% in contrast, with the drop split across jewelry and investment.
Even in India, however, "ample supplies" dented prices in the retail market says consultancy Metals Focus, thanks to a surge in H1 gold bullion imports.
Indeed, "since mid-May the local price switched to a consistent discount to London" – center of the world's wholesale market, and the global price benchmark – widening by late-June to $10 per ounce, "a level not seen in a couple of years," says Metals Focus in its latest Indian Focus Monthly.
Looking ahead to the last 6 months of 2015, second-half gold jewelry demand in 2014 was 20% greater than demand between January and June, according to GFMS's data. But while this year's monsoon rains have now improved – allaying fears of a "second consecutive drought year" according to the Indian Express, and boosting jewelers expectations for H2 sales – the crucial Hindu calendar will bring 40% fewer auspicious days for marriage ceremonies, denting a key source of demand for gifts.
"We are seeing signs of a farm sector recovery," says J.S.Sandhu, deputy director-general for crop science at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. "Right now, the pattern of rainfall and sowing area coverage is almost similar to that of 2013-14, which was a bumper crop year."
That is "a positive sign for retailers," the Economic Times quotes Ashok Minawala, former chairman of the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation. Because "it is a tradition in the farming community to buy gold once they sell crop," he explains, some "60-70% of India's gold demand comes from the rural market."
However, "the number of auspicious days for wedding is less this year," the same paper last month quoted Ketan Shroff of the India Bullion & Jewellers Association. "[That] will definitely dent the demand of gold jewelry during the second half of this year."