Some Gold Market Facts
October 9, 2011 5 Comments
India is the world’s biggest market for gold.
Imports meet almost all the country’s 800-900 tonnes per year requirements for jewellery and investment.
The market was only freed up in 1997, when the government allowed banks and other state-run trading firms to import the sensitive commodity directly.Only 31 state-run and private banks along with government trading agencies have licences to import gold because of its implications for foreign exchange flows.
India’s gold imports rose 34.9 percent to 553 tonnes in the first half of 2011, according to the World Gold Council (WGC). Imports jumped 72 percent in 2010 to 959 tonnes.
Imports are high but with a population of 1.2 billion, per capita consumption is relatively low. Per capita gold consumption is only 0.7 grams, half that of the United States and one-third of the Middle East, according to World Gold Council estimates.
India’s gold market is estimated to have more than 300,000 jewellers, mostly small, family-run businesses.
India’s 2010/11 budget raised the import duty on gold and platinum to 300 rupees ($6.65) per 10 grams from 200 rupees previously, with the duty on silver raised to 1,500 rupees per kg from 1,000 rupees earlier.
The investment purchases of gold have been rising faster than jewellery purchases. The WGC’s latest data shows the investment to jewellery ratio was about 17:83 in the first half of 2011.
Gold buying in the form of exchange-traded funds is rising. Launched in 2007, the total collection among seven fund houses is over 15 tonnes, nearly double the level a year ago.
In 2009, India’s gold market had its weakest year since trade was freed up in 1997. Record high prices and a failed monsoon meant imports fell 33 percent from the previous year to 480 tonnes, against an annual range between 600 and 800 tonnes in the previous five years.
The large jewellery companies, such as Titan Industries, Reliance Jewels, Rajesh Exports and the state-run MMTC Ltd, are targeting the retail market with plans for hundreds of branded shops. They are hoping to attract sales from customers looking for a well-known name as a guarantee of quality.