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Gold demand up 20 pc in H1

Our Bureau

Mumbai , Aug. 20

DEMAND for gold in the country during the first half of 2004 was 20 per cent higher in rupee terms and 10 per cent higher in tonnage terms than that in the first half of 2003.

Total consumer demand (jewellery and net retail investment) was up by 12 per cent in rupee terms and 3.6 per cent in tonnage terms, in the second quarter of 2004, according to figures published by the World Gold Council.

Both jewellery and retail investment demand were buoyant in the second quarter, just as they had been in the first quarter.

The global consumer (jewellery and net retail investment) demand for gold in Q2 was leaping by 25 per cent in dollar terms and 10 per cent in tonnage terms. Strong economic growth and a relative absence of price volatility, coupled with concerns over long-term economic and political outlook, provided a supportive environment for purchases.

The year-on-year comparison for jewellery in the Asian countries was also boosted slightly by the recovery from the impact of SARS in the second quarter of 2003.

Demand for gold jewellery was 8 per cent higher, at 664 tonnes, than a year earlier, despite a 13 per cent increase in price.

Meanwhile, net retail investment demand rose by a third to 79 tonnes, the highest Q2 figure since 1999 when demand was driven by fears of the millennium bug. Industrial demand for gold was 7 per cent higher than a year earlier, the eighth consecutive quarterly figure to show year-on-year increase, mainly due to increasing demand for gold for electronic components.

"The demand for gold for investment continues to surge internationally (44 per cent in the first half of 2004 over first half of 2003) because of some of the fundamental characteristics of gold such as inflation hedge and a hedge against a weakening dollar. We have seen similar trends in India also, with investment demand for gold increasing by 35 per cent in value terms, in the first half of 2004 compared with the first half of 2003.

"The trade across the country have reported very healthy offtake of gold jewellery, specially from mid-February to May , after the prices having stabilised somewhat from the peak levels it had reached in January," Mr Sanjeev Agarwal, Managing Director (Indian sub-continent) of World Gold Council, said.

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