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China’s gold supply deficit widens over Jan-Sept

China’s domestic gold supply was still insufficient to meet the country’s demand for the precious metal during this year’s January-September period, with the supply deficit swelling by 8.2% on year to 476.9 tonnes, calculated based on statistics from the China Gold Association’s latest report published on November 6.

Over the past three quarters, China’s gold consumption increased by 5.1% on year to 849.7 tonnes, while its gold output declined by a slight 0.6% on year to 372.8 tonnes, according to the association. China is the world’s largest supplier and consumer of gold.

Gold demand from China’s jewellery segment continued growing over January-September, with total gold demand in this segment increasing by 6.9% on year to 538.9 tonnes, the statistics showed. The lower gold price this year helped drive sales during the past three quarters, the association explained in the report.

Though Chinese consumers in developed first- and second-tier cities prefer well-designed and high value-added gold jewellery products, high gold-content jewellery stayed popular in some less developed third- and fourth-tier cities, the report noted.

Over January-September, the Au-9999 spot gold price on the Shanghai Gold Exchange averaged Yuan 269.67/gram ($39/g), some 2.4% down on year.

Meanwhile, demand for gold bars, the country’s second largest application of the metal, slid by 5% on year to 210.9 tonnes over January-September, according to the statistics. The rate of decline in demand year-on-year has narrowed markedly from the 15.7% slump in demand over January-June, the data shows. This was partly due to increased hedging demand for gold from Chinese investors in Q3 when trade relations between China and USA deteriorated further during the same quarter.

A positive development over the nine months was the continuing buoyant demand for the metal for use in electronic devices which supported an overall surge in gold demand from China’s industrial segment of 24.7% on year to 81.9 tonnes, the association added.

As for gold supply in China, the decline in output over the past three quarters was partly a consequence of the central government’s  ongoing environmental protection campaign this year, during which some gold mines with substandard pollution control facilities were ordered to reduce output or halt completely while rectification work is completed, the report noted.

Written by Sean Xie, xiepy@mysteel.com

Edited by Russ McCulloch, russ.mculloch@mysteel.com