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China gold imports jump 68% in May to 115 mt, highest in five months

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China gold imports jump 68% in May to 115 mt, highest in five months

London — Gold imports to mainland China from Hong Kong totaled 115 mt in May, up 68% month on month to the highest level since December, data from the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong government showed Tuesday.

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The figure was up 63% year on year from 70.7 mt in May 2015.

Physical demand has struggled this year amid high international spot prices, but picked up in a number of locations in May as prices eased.

Having surged close to $1,300/oz at the end of April, prices fell back around $100/oz in May, before recovering again this month on reduced expectations of interest rate rises and safe haven demand amid growing global economic uncertainty.

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Gold bar imports in India, the world's second-largest consumer after China, jumped 46% in May to around 50 mt, while Turkey saw gold imports surge 155% during the month to around 8 mt.

Gold exports from Switzerland, the world's largest exporter, rose 20% in May.

Yet physical gold demand has been reported weak once again, with discounts heard in India as high as $45-$55/oz to the international price this week, as gold surges on increased market uncertainty following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Discounts have been reported this week in China for the first time this year, at around $1.00-$1.50/oz to the spot price, indicating a notable dip in physical demand.

The London Bullion Market Gold Price settled at $1,312/oz Tuesday morning, down $12.45 on Monday's close, having eased since hitting 22-month highs of $1,359/oz Friday on the UK referendum result.

--George King Cassell, george.king.cassell@spglobal.com
--Edited by Dan Lalor, daniel.lalor@spglobal.com