GOLD BULLION imports to China through Hong Kong surged in March, according to latest data from the Census Bureau, more than doubling even before private households raced to buy the precious metal at the lowest prices in two years in April.
Already rising to 97 tonnes in February from January's 3-month low, gold bullion imports to China through Hong Kong – net of re-exports – rose to 223 tonnes in March month according to Reuters.
That jump came alongside sharply higher gold demand in the first 3 months of the year, the China Gold Association said Tuesday, with total consumption rising 26% compared with the first quarter of 2012 to reach 320.5 tonnes.
Domestic gold mining output in China – now the world's #1 producer nation, as well as its second heaviest consumer behind India – rose 11% the Association said to 89.9 tonnes.
"Physical demand picked up significantly over the last couple of weeks," says Zhang Bingnan, secretary-general of the China Gold Association.
"Consumers and industrial users tend to see price drops as buying opportunities."
Mainland consumers visiting Hong Kong have reportedly bought 300 tonnes of gold jewelry and bullion items since the precious metal suffered its sharpest price drop in 30 years three weeks ago, the state-controlled Xinhua news agency says.
"The rush for [gold] bargains embodies the limited choice Chinese households have when it comes to investment," it goes on.
"With an under-performing stock market, tightly controlled property sector and low interest rates, Chinese households have scant options to invest their money for better returns."