Woman trying gold bangles
A woman tries on gold bangles at a jewellery store | Photo: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg
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Mumbai: Gold purchases by Indians this year are forecast to tumble to a record low as the coronavirus pandemic hurts the economy and prices surge to all-time highs, according to the World Gold Council.

Consumption fell 56% from a year earlier to 165.6 tons in the first half of 2020 and the drop is unlikely to be made up during the rest of the year, P.R. Somasundaram, managing director for India, said in an interview. “Going by what we are seeing now, lockdowns are still continuing in many parts of the country and it will be a very, very challenging year. It must be one of the lowest perhaps we have ever seen.”

Virus-related lockdowns in India since the end of March shuttered businesses and left millions jobless. Factories have reopened even as the epidemic in the country is now growing at the fastest pace in the world. Gold prices in India have also rallied to record highs, damping demand.

“For gold demand to survive, the economy has to do well,” Somasundaram said. “There is also a lot of anxiety among people regarding incomes and lot of people from the unorganized sector are not doing much business. Whatever savings people have, they will put it into the businesses or pledge gold to raise money. They will not put that into buying gold.”

However, demand could jump by 350 tons in a single quarter “if life as we know it comes back,” he said. A sense of optimism is developing among jewelers that by the festival of Diwali, in November this year, virus-related disruptions may matter less as people learn to live with it, spurring consumer confidence and jewelry demand, he said.- Bloomberg


Also read: As gold price soars, so does India’s demand for loans against gold in pandemic season


 

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