Gold exports from Switzerland totaled 160 mt in August, down 7% from 172 mt a year earlier, Swiss federal customs data showed Tuesday.
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The figure is 17% lower than 192 mt in July, the largest flow out of the country this year. August is also the lowest monthly export total since April.
The world's largest refiner and exporter of gold, total exports from Switzerland now stand at 1,197 mt for the year to date, up 3% from 1,160 mt in the same period of 2015.
In a marked change from the traditional flow of physical gold from west to east, the UK continues to be the largest destination for Switzerland's gold this year at 84.6 mt in August, up 6% from July.
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Total exports to the UK are now 415 mt in 2016, up from just 21 mt in the whole of 2015, and account for over a third of all Switzerland's gold exports this year.
Growing investment demand for gold has seen a large flow of the metal into the UK in 2016, with significant inflows into gold-backed exchange traded funds, which have seen assets under management surge this year by over 30%.
Exports to the US have also grown this year, with total exports at 71 mt for the year to date, up from just 8.5 mt in the whole of 2015. However, August exports totaled just 2.9 mt, down from 22 mt in July and the lowest monthly figure since April.
Exports to India were up 37% on the month to 21.9 mt in August, the highest since April, but down 67% on the year from 67 mt a year earlier.
Exports to China were down 27% on the month and 3% lower on the year, to 16.4 mt in August. While exports to Hong Kong were down 27% on the month and 34% lower on the year, to 24 mt.
Exports to Singapore were down 87% on the year and 39% lower on the month to just 1.8 mt in August, its lowest for over two years. While exports to the UAE were down 71% on the year to 1.3 mt.
Demand for gold in Asia, which accounts for the bulk of physical buying, has struggled this year with high international prices. Average gold prices were $1,341/oz in August, according to the London Bullion Market Association Gold Price, the highest monthly average for three years.
Total exports to India for the year to date are 174 mt, around half the 344 mt for the same period in 2015.
Total exports to Hong Kong at 178 mt for the year to date are down 32% from the same period in 2015, with the UAE and Singapore both 63% lower on the year at 34 mt and 9.6 mt for January-August, respectively.
But exports to China have recovered in the last two months to outpace last year's purchases, with total exports for the year to date at 190 mt, up 15% from 166 mt in the same period in 2015.
Spot gold was trading around $1,315/oz Tuesday morning, largely unchanged from Monday.
--George King Cassell, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, email@example.com