India’s gold imports in November 2019 declined for the fifth month as elevated prices and the slowest economic growth in six years curbed demand during the peak wedding season. Inbound shipments dropped 19 per cent from a year earlier to 56.1 tonnes, according to a Bloomberg report. That makes it the lowest shipment for the month since at least 2015, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.
Total overseas purchases slid 15 per cent from year earlier to 597.5 tonnes during the 11 months through November.
Imports in the world’s second-biggest consumer have been falling as jewelers have been cutting purchases on poor demand. Slowing growth and a more than 20 per cent rally in prices this year are expected to push India’s domestic consumption to the weakest since 2016.
A delayed monsoon and harvest have also weighed on demand in rural India, which accounts for about 60 per cent of the nation’s gold purchases.
The fall in November’s shipments signals a general slowdown in the economy and lower liquidity among rural population due to late harvesting of crops. Consumer confidence in India dropped to its lowest since at least 2014, the Reserve Bank of India’s consumer confidence survey showed last week.
Still, an uptick in demand driven by the wedding season pushed up November’s imports above the 20.8 tonnes shipped in October and September’s 13.5 tonnes. Indians buy gold mainly to wear or gift during weddings and festivals, with the peak purchases typically taking place during the last quarter of the year.
Traders fear that imports will slide again in December as there are no auspicious days for weddings from Dec.15-Jan. 14. Gold prices will also continue to trade higher bolstered by huge uncertainties in the global market on the trade deal between U.S. and China, U.S. interest rates, peaking stock markets, and the U.S. elections.
Globally, according to a World Gold Council report, in November 2019, global gold-backed ETFs saw $1.3 billion of net outflows across all regions driven by a stronger dollar, a Brexit extension, and stronger equity markets from September and October highs. Overall, however, global gold-backed assets under management grew 35 per cent this year as a result of increased investment demand and price appreciation.