October 24, 2019 / 10:53 AM / 24 days ago

China's net gold imports via Hong Kong fall in September

(Reuters) - China’s net gold imports via Hong Kong fell 9% in September from the previous month, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department showed on Thursday, mainly due to softer demand and possible measures by Beijing to prop up the yuan.

Net imports via Hong Kong to China, the world’s top consumer of the metal, decreased to 11.829 tonnes in September from 12.997 tonnes in August, the data showed.

Total gold imports via Hong Kong fell about 8% to 14.44 tonnes from 15.661 tonnes in August.

In August, China’s net monthly gold imports via Hong Kong had jumped nearly 61%, bouncing off their lowest in more than eight years in July.

The relatively low volumes could be attributed to lower demand and in part to China’s efforts to protect the yuan exchange rate from outflows, Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS, said.

Hong Kong, traditionally the main physical gateway of gold to China, has been engrossed in months-long political unrest that has also impacted jewelery sales and stoked concerns about shipping gold out of the city.

However, “the central bank, PBOC, will likely release another batch of import permit in the rest of this year. We don’t know the quantity in terms of the permit, but once they release it, the import volume should pick up somewhat,” Li said.

International benchmark spot gold prices XAU= in September marked its first monthly decline in five, with bullion being sold at a premium of between $8 to $12 in China over the benchmark for most of the month.

China does not provide trade data on gold and the Hong Kong data may not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing.

Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra and Arun Koyyur

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