China's gold imports from Hong Kong declined by almost half in November

China, the world's largest producer and consumer of gold, went on a bit of a diet last month.

According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the Asian giant's net gold imports to the mainland from Hong Kong dropped by 42% in November.

Weak demand from jewellers and retailers is to blame. A dealer in Hong Kong told SCMP that banks had likely reached their import quotas.

Just a few months ago, China's gold imports from Hong Kong were booming Рhitting second-highest record of 129 tonnes in October. According to Bloomberg, jewellers and retailers were stocking up ahead of the peak-demand season at the end of the year.

In November, the country imported just 76 tonnes.

But compared with two years ago, these import levels are still huge. In December 2011, China was importing just 39 tonnes of gold.

The country gets most of its gold via Hong Kong and since the mainland doesn't publish its gold trade data, Hong Kong figures provide a good estimate of import levels.