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China’s monthly net gold imports via Hong Kong surged 51% in January to their highest since mid-2018, official data showed on Tuesday, as customers amassed the precious metal in preparation for the Lunar New Year festival.

“As local assets including equities and properties saw weak performances, the strong RMB gold price performances in recent months attracted investors who sought safe-haven assets,” the World Gold Council said in a note this month.

“And this led to continued popularity of gold bars and coins, resulting in manufacturer and commercial banks’ vibrant replenishment for the Chinese New Year holiday,” the WGC said, adding wholesale gold demand saw the strongest January ever.

Net imports into the world’s top gold consumer stood at 76.248 metric tons in January compared with 50.381 tons in December, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data showed.

Total gold imports via Hong Kong, which include re-exports, jumped 37% to 81.967 tons.

The Hong Kong data may not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases, as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing.

The People’s Bank of China controls the amount of gold entering the country via quotas to commercial banks.

China held 72.19 million fine troy ounces of gold at the end of January, extending its buying spree that began in November 2022.

Restocking ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in China saw record high wholesale demand at 271 metric tons in January, ANZ analysts wrote in a note, adding that gold’s spot premium in China suggests a healthy physical demand.

Last month, Chinese dealers sold gold at premiums of up to $57 an ounce over global benchmark spot prices.

“I don’t think this is just Chinese New Year related,” independent analyst Ross Norman said.

“This is something broader … as you’ve got the active extra dimension, which is the parlous state of the Chinese stock market and the losses in the property sector.”

(By Swati Verma and Ashitha Shivaprasad; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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