Turkish gold imports hit record 370 T in 2017-Borsa Istanbul

ANKARA, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Gold imports to Turkey hit a record 370 tonnes in 2017, more than trebling from 106.1 tonnes, data from Borsa Istanbul showed.

This was the highest level of imports since the data was made available in 1995 and well above the previous record of 302 tonnes set in 2013.

Imports in December alone reached 49.3 tonnes, up 34 percent year on year.

Cagdas Kucukemiroglu, an Istanbul-based analyst with consultancy Metals Focus, said cheap credit made available through a government policy aimed at boosting small businesses had made its way into gold, while stronger economic growth had also bolstered demand.

That increase in buying pushed premiums in the Turkish market up as high as $5-6 an ounce for brief periods over the summer, against $1.50-2.00 currently, he said.

"The central bank also resumed increasing their gold holdings," he said. "They increased by 86 tonnes since May 5 through the end of 2017."

Spot gold prices last year posted their biggest annual gain since 2010, rising 13 percent.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Jan Harvey in London; editing by David Dolan and Jason Neely)