(Adds background, analyst comments)
Aug 27 (Reuters) - China’s net gold imports via main conduit Hong Kong fell about 45 percent in July from the previous month amid lacklustre demand, data showed on Monday.
Imports via Hong Kong fell to 44.802 tonnes in July from 80.867 tonnes in June, according to data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department.
Total gold imports via Hong Kong also plunged 45 percent to 48.635 tonnes in July from 88.608 tonnes in June.
Benchmark spot gold prices registered a 2.3 percent decline in July.
“Since the SGE (Shanghai Gold Exchange) premium was low (in July), the domestic banks did not have high incentives to import gold, especially as the physical demand has not been great,” said Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based senior analyst at Thomson Reuters GFMS.
In June, China’s net gold imports via Hong Kong jumped 40.3 percent month-on-month to their highest since March 2017.
China does not provide trade data on gold, and the Hong Kong figures serve as a proxy for flows to the mainland.
The Hong Kong data, however, might not provide a full picture of Chinese purchases as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing. (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Gopakumar Warrier)