Global gold demand declines in first quarter of 2017

A salesperson attends to a customer inside a jewellery showroom during Akshaya Tritiya a major gold-buying festival in Mumbai

The overall demand stood at 1,262 tonne in Q1 2016, according to the WGCs latest Gold Demand Trends report.

Investment in gold-backed ETFs slipped back from the previous year's record levels, though it held firm at 109 tonnes, versus selling of 193 tonnes in the previous quarter.

Investors bought only 1,034.5 tons of gold last quarter - an 18 percent drop against the year-ago, the World Gold Council said in a statement on Thursday.

In total, gold investment demand was at 399 metric tons, for the first quarter of 2017.

Central bank demand for gold dropped to 76.3 tonnes in Q1, down 27 percent from 104.1 tonnes in the year-ago period.

"The demand in retail investment is also strong, grew 9% year-on-year, at more than $11 billion in the quarter".

Recycling went up by 3 per cent in Q1 2017 to 14.5 tonnes compared to 14 tonne in Q1 2016. "The weakness we were looking for in gold has materialized and we do think that current prices represent a good entry point for risk overlay trades", analysts at the bank said. Again, while that's a dramatic decline, the WGC offers some perspective: "this is more an indication of the atypical strength of 2016 inflows than of recent weakness".

"Demand is down year-on-year, but that is largely because Q1 last year was exceptionally high".

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Jewellery demand in Iran jumped 27 per cent year-on-year to a four-year high of 12.9 tonnes, helped by an improving economy. Chinese investment demand also was strong.

The sector remains heavily influenced by India and China, which together account for over half of the market (56% in Q1).

"Elsewhere the picture was less rosy; central bank demand was down and jewellery demand is still in the doldrums", Hewitt said.

Jewelry remained relatively weak in historical context and it was steady at 480.9 tons because of rising gold prices, it said.

Gold advanced 8.9 percent in the first quarter from the end of December, as investors snapped up the precious metal amid political discord in the USA and Europe that halted gains in equity markets. "It signals both a return of optimism and the resilience of this industry that has been living with some tough challenges since 2013", WGC India managing director Somasundaram P.R. said.

A salesperson attends to a customer (not pictured) inside a jewellery showroom, during Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold-buying festival, in Mumbai, April 28, 2017.

The total supply of gold in the three months to March 30 was a 12 %-lower 1 032 t, mainly on a 21% recycling fall to 283 t.

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