SMM News: global gold demand rose 7% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier, driven by strategic buying by central banks, according to a report released by the World Gold Council (WGC) on its website on Thursday. Global central banks bought a total of 145.5 tonnes of gold between January and March, up more than 68 per cent from a year earlier, according to the WGC quarterly demand trend report. Global central banks bought 651.5 tons of gold in 2018, the highest level since 1967. "given the strategic nature of central bank buying, we expect momentum to continue," said Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at WGC, who said he expected global central banks to buy 500 to 600 tonnes of gold this year. Global gold consumption was 1053.3 tons in the first quarter, up from 984.2 tons a year earlier, WGC said. WGC said investors were encouraged by political and economic uncertainty and the prospect of slowing interest rate rises, adding 40.3 tonnes to (ETF), a gold-backed listed trading fund, up 49 per cent from a year earlier. Gold consumption of jewelry rose 1 per cent from a year earlier to 530.3 tonnes, while Indian demand rose 5 per cent to 125.4 tonnes-the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2015. Affected by the fall in domestic rupee-denominated gold prices in late February and early March and the wedding festival, this was partly offset by a 2 per cent drop in Chinese consumption to 184.1 tonnes. China and India are the world's largest jewelry markets. Hewitt said purchases in the UK rose 58 per cent to 3.6t as investors wanted to protect themselves from potential Brexit turmoil, but purchases of gold bars in China and Japan fell. It still led to a 1 per cent drop in overall investment in gold bars and coins to 257.8 tons. Gold use in electronics and other industries fell 3 per cent to 79.3 tons. Hewitt said he expected Chinese demand for jewelry, bars and coins to be 900 to 1, 000 tons this year, compared with 750 to 850 tons in India. WGC said gold supply in the first quarter was roughly the same as a year earlier, at 1150 tons.