Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gold premiums erased by higher prices, seasonal factors
~ by Eddie van der Walt
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma 
March 15, 2014: Premiums paid for physical gold continued to fade after the metal rose to its highest price in nearly six months on Wednesday, leading some to question the sustainability of the rally. 

The metal reached it most expensive since September 20 at $1,368.85 per ounce on a combination of worries including geopolitical tensions in Ukraine, a perceived slowdown in the Chinese economy, dollar weakness and a sharp sell-off in the non-ferrous metals. 

And it was last still around this level at $1,365.75/1,366.55 per ounce, up $18.45 or nearly 1.4 percent from the previous close. 

As with most price rises, premiums paid for the metal have fallen, with price-sensitive physical buyers holding back to see how the various situations play out. 

"The physical market has quietened down a lot in recent days," one trader said. 

In India, premiums were reported as low as $60 for 1kg bars over London spot, although traders told FastMarkets that other factors are also playing a role in local market dynamics. 

First, with the wedding season now over, gold is entering a period of lower demand so jewellers would therefore be less pressured to build up depleted stocks. 

Second, there are growing expectations that the Indian government is on the verge of scaling back its tough import restrictions, with sources telling The Bullion Desk that they believe the controversial 80:20 rule may be repealed "within weeks". 

The rule, which is aimed at reducing imports of the metal and thus helping to curve the current account deficit (CAD), specifies that new gold imports are not allowed until 20 percent of previous shipments are exported as jewellery. 

But jewellers staged earlier this month a one-day strike against this measure as well as high taxes on imports, which have also been blamed for an increase in illegal gold imports. 

And with a general election fast approaching - it will be held during April and May - and the CAD improving, there is pressure on the government to repeal this rule. 

In China, premiums - recently as high as $15 over spot - have completely dissipated, with the metal now at a $3 discount. 

But with China the only actively buying market, the discount may not be a reflection of weak demand but rather of a flood of imports as sellers dump their gold there, traders said. 

In other locations, Hong Kong was quoted at $1, down from nearly $2 recently, while Singapore dropped to about 80 cents over spot. 

(Editing by Mark Shaw) 

Note: This is a delayed version of the report that appeared on FastMarkets' subscriber-only website on March 12 - all information is correct as of that date