Gold News

Gold Trading Higher as Euro Slumps, India Tightens Import Controls, Vietnam Bans Monetary Use

PRECIOUS METALS rallied from yesterday's late 3-month lows in London on Thursday, with Gold Trading 0.7% higher vs. the Dollar as stock markets fell with energy prices.

Silver rallied 2.2% from Wednesday's bottom, but remained one-third below the 3-decade peak near $50 per ounce hit at Easter 2011.

The single Euro currency meantime slid near $1.3050 this morning – down 3¢ for the week – after Wednesday's weak auction of new Spanish debt was followed today by news of a sharp decline in Germany's industrial output.

Losing 1.1% against Gold Bullion on Thursday, the Euro also dipped briefly through CHF 1.20 – the floor set by the Swiss National Bank last September, and defended by selling Francs to buy Euros in a bid to prevent the currency-zone's debt crisis further hurting Switzerland's export-heavy economy.

Going into the long Easter weekend – which will see London's wholesale Gold Trading market closed until Tuesday – Spanish bond yields jumped again, erasing the dip seen since the European Central Bank began lending Eurozone banks more than €1 trillion in December.

The Dax index of German stocks today slid 0.9%, extending this Easter week's losses to 3.2%.

Bullion-market analysts and professionals Trading Gold have "turned bearish for the first time this year," according to Bloomberg's latest weekly survey.

"Fifteen of 29 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect prices to decline next week and five were neutral," says the newswire, "the highest proportion since Dec. 30."

The last week of Dec. 2011 saw gold hit a 5-month low and begin a 17% rally over the following 9 weeks.

"We would not be surprised to see a move down in gold," says a note from bullion-bank Scotia Mocatta, "but as concerns about Europe's debt are resurfacing, the downside may be limited and safe-haven buying may soon return with vigour."

Over in Vietnam meantime, and "after a few dozen drafts" reports, "the final decree on the management of Gold Trading activities, a very important document with a strong influence on the domestic gold market, has been signed by the Prime Minister."

Hanoi's new decree brings together Vietnam's piecemeal controls on gold trading of 2011, banning the use of gold as money, such as making large payments in real estate deals, as well as manufacturing or Trading Gold without the requisite licenses.

Across in India – the world's No.1 private gold consumer, where a 3-week long strike by jewelers protesting against a series of tax and duty hikes turned violent on Monday, with protesters clashing with police in Mumbai and disrupting trains in Ghaziabad – commercial banks now have to submit a raft of new monthly and twice-annual reports to the Reserve Bank of India stating the volume and value of their Gold Bullion imports.

"We all know that gold is a deep-rooted part of our cultural heritage," says Mehul Choksi, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-based Gitanjali Gems Ltd.

"[Gold] also serves as a highly liquid form of savings and a hedge against inflation, having appreciated much faster than other asset classes.

"Naturally, we cannot expect this demand to suddenly disappear. And, since India produces virtually no gold, demand has to be met entirely through imports – legal or illegal!"

“The four per cent duty might be perceived as an irritant," counters T R Rustagi, former joint secretary of the Central Board of Excise & Customs, also writing in the Business Standard. "But arguably it cannot be the cause for smuggling.

"Its avoidance may not be lucrative enough for smugglers to take risks," says Rustagi, contrasting today's 4% duty with the 15% in place when India repealed its Gold Control Act, liberalizing the legal import of Gold Bullion  in 1990.

"We have no choice but to cooperate with the union," says a Bangalore jeweler, speaking to DNA. "If we go against them and face problems later, we will be ostracised."

Private reports reaching BullionVault here in London, however, say that gold items are widely available for sale in Mumbai.

"We are expecting [finance minister] Pranab Mukherjee to offer a feasible solution very soon," says Bacchraj Bamalwa, chairman of the Gems & Jewellery Federation of India, warning that 1,000 crore Rupees in Gold Trading – equal to some $200m – is being lost by the industry each day.

India's second-largest jewelry business by stock-market capitalization, Gitanjali's share price has dropped 20% on the BSE since hitting a four-year high in early Feb., just before the new ad valorem import duty on Gold Bullion was doubled to 4%.

Reports from the Bombay Bullion Association said this week that gold imports to India have fallen by one-half so far in 2012 from the start of 2011.

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