Gold imports by India edge higher on easing virus curbs

The nation is the world’s second-biggest consumer of gold after China. (Stock image)

Gold imports by the world’s second-biggest consumer edged higher in June as the pandemic’s lethal second wave ebbed in India and buyers trickled back to stores drawn by a drop in prices.

Overseas shipments increased to 15 tons last month from 13.2 tons a year ago, according to a person familiar with the data, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. That would take the April-June quarter imports to about 97 tons, down by half from the previous quarter. Finance Ministry spokesman Rajesh Malhotra didn’t immediately respond to calls to his mobile phone.

Virus cases in India have eased from a peak of more than 400,000 daily infections in May, when the world’s fastest coronavirus surge left overflowing hospitals and crematoriums. Jewelers, including Titan Co. and Kalyan Jewellers India Ltd., have gradually started reopening stores for short periods since June as states lifted pandemic-related lockdowns. Buyers looking for bargains have also returned to stores after domestic prices fell by the most in four months in June.

“Though business hours are restricted, we are seeing people coming in to buy gold, including coins, as they feel prices will shoot up again and they may not get an opportunity to buy if a third wave of the virus emerges,” said Kumar Jain, owner of U.T. Zaveri store in Mumbai’s biggest jewelry market. However, sales will only pick up in a big way once the state governments ease all restrictions on movements and businesses, he said.

(By Shruti Srivastava and Swansy Afonso)


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