As gold demand in India plunges, WGC says world hit

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Gold demand fell first time since 2009 as jewellery buying abated in Indian and Chinese markets. (Reuters) Gold demand fell first time since 2009 as jewellery buying abated in Indian and Chinese markets. (Reuters)
SummaryGold demand fell first time since 2009 as jewellery buying abated in Indian and Chinese markets.

in import duty, we still think we will see India continue to recover from what was a difficult year in 2012 overall," Grubb said. "Some of the buying may have been pulled into Q4 (by anticipation of the duty hike), but overall we think that will be countered by other factors."

He said a higher number of auspicious gold-buying occasions in the first quarter of 2013 would likely favour the metal.

"When you look at the full year, we're anticipating that we'll see 865-965 tonnes of demand," he said.

JURY OUT ON CHINA

In China, demand is expected to recover to between 780-880 tonnes this year, against 776.1 tonnes last year.

"The jury's out on a major re-acceleration of growth in Chinese gold demand," Grubb said. "Last year we saw the first significant slowdown in the Chinese economy in years. That did affect these numbers."

"What you're seeing in January and February is a re-acceleration in the Chinese economy," he said. "We will see what that does to gold demand in the first part of 2013."

Bar and coin investment fell sharply in the United States and Europe last year, with U.S. offtake dropping by more than a third to 53.4 tonnes and European buying down 29 percent to 273.6 tonnes.

Overall investment demand last year fell 10 percent to 1,534.6 tonnes. That was led by a 17 percent dip in bar and coin demand, with bar investment falling by a fifth to 941.1 tonnes.

Investment via gold-backed exchange-traded funds rose, however, with ETF demand up by more than half at 279 tonnes.

"There was a pick-up in U.S. coin and bar demand towards the end of the year because of the fiscal cliff," Grubb said. "But overall for the year it was weak, and it reflects the fact that in Europe the announcements by the European Central Bank took away tail risk in the mind of the investor."

"The announcement of OMT (bond-buying) in Europe and quantitative easing in the United States also mitigated fears of a near-term crisis, and I think that's why bar and coin demand fell. Institutional investors and private wealth took a different view - you

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