Gold Lacks Physical Support From Emerging Markets, Demand From China, India Not Able To Boost Prices

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Gold Jewelry
A saleswoman arranges a gold necklace in a jewelry showroom in the southern Indian city of Kochi.

Gold prices lack support from demand for the physical metal in emerging markets – specifically China and India – after slower European inflationary concerns and U.S. monetary policy statements drove gold prices lower Friday.

There’s been “little reaction so far to the price drop by traditionally price-sensitive emerging-market buyers,” wrote HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA) analysts in a research note on Thursday afternoon.

Usually, gold price declines trigger significant bargain buying from Asian consumers, who seek a cheap entry into the gold market amid broadly positive long-term sentiment about gold there. 

But no such wave of bargain buying in China or India has materialized, despite gold prices falling from highs of $1,360 per ounce earlier this week to about $1,310 per ounce on Friday morning.

Indian gold consumers are struggling from the onset of a gold shortage as they head into a key holiday season. The bullion industry there is apparently shrinking, wrote precious metals analyst Edward Meir in a Friday report.

About a quarter of the 16 million employed in the Indian gold industry could lose their jobs if gold supplies continue to be hampered by government regulations, industry experts told Reuters.

“There simply is not enough gold to go around, and this is what seems to be contributing to the employment contraction,” wrote Meir. He also noted record premiums of $130 per ounce over international prices for gold buyers in India, which could dampen demand.

Chinese buyers haven’t yet reacted to lower prices either, wrote HSBC analyst James Steel in his note.

“It may be too early for any increase in demand from this source based off of the price decline,” he said.

“The nearly $30 decline from the highs printed earlier this week have not seemed to attract physical buyers yet, with volumes on the Shanghai Gold Exchange remaining relatively light so far,” added UBS (VTX:UBSN) analyst Joni Teves in a note on Thursday.

Gold bullion – held in the form of bars – transferred by investors fell to its lowest level since August 2012, according to London Bullion Market Association statistics. “The data show a slowing in the demand for gold, with commensurate negative implications for prices,” wrote Steel.

U.S. monetary policy and EU economic data have played a strong role in pushing prices lower in the first place. A stronger dollar and weaker euro also bode badly for gold prices.

Market participants desperate for clues may have read the recent Federal Open Market Committee statement as slightly less dovish, meaning that tapering could start sooner, wrote precious metals analysts.

“Gold and other precious metals fell hard on Thursday, reacting to a stronger dollar and lingering concern about the Fed’s intentions,” wrote Meir.

If weak or mediocre U.S. economic data appears in coming months, though, that should lift gold, precious metals retailer Scott Carter told IBTimes earlier this week. That the U.S. economy is not recovering as quickly or solidly as perceived is one argument many gold bugs have subscribed to lately.

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