China gold demand jumps almost 42%, talks of stockpiling up 100%

China gold demand jumps almost 42%, talks of stockpiling up 100%

China's huge appetite for gold continued to increase last year, exceeding the 1,000-tonne mark, which represents a 41.36% annual surge, data released by China Gold Association (CGA) reveals.

The country, poised to grab the title of world's top gold buyer from India, said the 1,176 tonnes figure reflects a domestic demand for jewellery and bars mostly unaffected by 2013’s gloomy global market conditions.  Analysts, however, have another theory.

While is true that Chinese buyers saw weak gold prices as a buying opportunity, some insists the nation’s central bank took advantage of the situation and bulked up its holdings of the precious metal.

The latest official figures, reports FT.com (subs. required), show that China imported and produced considerably more gold in 2013 than what its citizens bought. The gap, in fact, it’s not minor: over 400 tonnes.

Let’s do the math:

    • Total gold imported by China in 2013= 1,157 tonnes
    • Total gold produced by China= 428 tonnes
    • So: 1,157+ 428= 1,585
    • Total gold consumed by China in 2013= 1,176 tonnes (CGA)

1,585 – 1,176 = 409 tonnes unaccounted for.

“We would not be surprised to hear the People’s Bank of China announce a new, significantly higher figure, if it chooses to do so,” Na Liu, of CNC Asset Management, told FT.com.

Instead, the nation’s central bank announced Monday that its gold reserves continue to stay at 1,054 tonnes, the same figure it has published since April 2009, Xinhua reported.

"It remains a mystery what happened to the other gold available in China,” brokers at Macquarie were quoted by The Telegraph as saying.

South China Morning Post’s columnist, Tom Holland, said analysts are creating and fuelling “conspiracy theories,” which are all “nonsense.”

“Yes, it is true that China has been buying an awful lot of gold recently (…) But one reason these theories can gain traction is Beijing’s own reticence about its gold holdings,” he writes.

China is already the world's largest gold consumer, after taking over India last year.