UPDATE 1-India 2012/13 gold imports may fall 35 pct-gov panel

Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:54pm GMT

* PM's advisere opposes ban on gold imports

* Govt sees improved economic conditions curbing gold imports

* Moderating inflation to affect gold imports (Adds quote, details)

By Manoj Kumar

NEW DELHI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Easing inflation and a revival in stock markets could dent gold imports by India, the world's biggest consumer, pushing shipments down by about 35 percent in value terms in 2012/13, a government panel said on Wednesday.

Indians found gold a better investment than stocks and an effective tool to hedge against inflation in the current fiscal year when imports are estimated to reach $58 billion.

The government hopes gold imports will be $38 billion in the full 2012/13 fiscal year.

"The stabilisation of basic macroeconomic conditions at home is expected to curtail the demand for imported gold to be held as an asset by Indian households," C. Rangarajan, chairman of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic advisory council said, presenting the panel's report on the Indian economy.

India imported 969 tonnes of gold in 2011, almost the same amount as in the previous year, as volatile prices dented demand. Shipments will remain flat this year, the World Gold Council said.   Continued...

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