Asia Gold-China buying picks up to dodge year-end supply crunch

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SummaryGold bar premiums in Hong Kong rose to as high as $1.50 an ounce above London prices.

said a Singapore-based dealer.

The premiums in Singapore were quoted in the range of 70 cents to $1, dealers said.

In Japan, the discount on gold bars narrowed to 50 cents from 75 cents last week, said a Tokyo-based trader.

"We haven't seen much gold selling in recent days," said the trader. "Some manufacturers are purchasing gold to stock up their products before the New Year holidays, so the discount is tighter now."

WEEK AHEAD

Market players will watch the U.S. budget talks and the resurfacing political turmoil in Italy, key factors that will affect gold prices in coming weeks.

Refineries will start to shut down before the year end, and their schedule will be closely monitored by physical gold buyers concerned about supply crunch.

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