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Indian Gold Imports Top 2016 Total as Gold Continues to Flow from West to East

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Indians bought more gold in the first half of 2017 than they did all of the previous year, as the yellow metal continues to flow from the West to the East.

Indians within every economic class buy gold. Even the poor in India invest in the yellow metal. But demand for gold slumped to a seven-year low in 2016, leading some to wonder if Indians had lost their appetite for the metal.

Apparently not.

Demand for gold in India rebounded through the first half of the year. According to GFMS Thomson Reuters, India imported 521 tons of gold through H1 2017. The world’s second leading consumer of gold only imported 510 tons through all of 2016. According to Business Standard, analysts say India is on pace to hit its highest gold import value since 2012.

Going by industry estimates, gold import are likely to cross 900 tons against the average imports of 709 tons in the past five years, and the imports bill is expected to cross $40 billion in 2017. If the estimates come true this would be the highest imports in value terms since 2012.”

A number of factors pushed demand down in 2016, including a jeweler strike. With that resolved, and a new tax going into effect this month, Indians rushed out to buy gold. Political and economic factors have generally increased demand for the yellow metal in India. Indians faced a cash crisis earlier this year, after a government demonetization policy that suddenly declared 1,000 and 500 rupee notes no longer valid. Indians are also concerned about the geopolitical instability in the world.

Indian demand makes up part of the larger trend of gold moving from the West to the East. The yellow metal continues to flow rapidly out of the US, as reported by the SRSrocco Report.

In the first four months of 2017, the US exported a stunning 173 metric tons of gold (5.5 million oz) compared to 119 metric tons (3.8 million oz) during the same period last year.   Thus, US gold exports Jan-Apr 2017 surged 45% versus last year.”

The report blames lagging retail gold sales in the US since the election of Donald Trump for the exodus. The US Mint sold 501,000 ounces of Gold Eagles during the first half of 2016, versus just 192,000 ounces through the first half of this year. During a recent interview at International Metal Writers Conference, Peter Schiff said he thinks a lot of Americans who typically invest in gold have been lulled into a false sense of security with the election of Donald Trump. Peter said that’s a mistake. Despite his intentions, Trump won’t be able to change the course we’re already on.

Certainly, if you look at the United States, Americans are buying less gold now than they’ve done since the bull market began in 1999 – 2000.  Sales from the US Mint have collapsed. At SchiffGold, we just had our weakest quarter since the company has been in existence. And it’s not just my firm. It’s industry-wide. Americans are not buying gold, even though gold prices year-to-date are up more than the S&P 500. But the people who typically buy gold in America voted for Trump, and they’re no longer worried about the economy. So they’re not buying gold. They’re buying stocks instead, and I think they’re making a big mistake. They should be selling their stocks and buying even more gold.”

But as SRSrocco report, the drop off in physical gold investment demand in the US has been offset by elevated demand in the East. And it’s not just Indians buying gold. Hong Kong imported 66.7 tons of US gold during the first four months of this year. Meanwhile, the US exported 73.8 tons of gold to Switzerland and the UK, much of which will also eventually flow east to India, China and other Asian markets.

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