July 25, 2019 / 10:31 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-China's June net gold imports via Hong Kong slump to 9-month low

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July 25 (Reuters) - China’s net gold imports via Hong Kong in June tumbled about 35% from the previous month to the lowest in nine months in part due to a seasonal slowdown in the jewellery industry, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department showed on Thursday.

Net imports via Hong Kong to China, the world’s top consumer of the metal, decreased to 14.043 tonnes in June from 21.733 tonnes in May, according to the data. The June imports touched the lowest since September 2018, when they stood at about 11.059 tonnes.

Total gold imports via Hong Kong also fell to their lowest since September 2018, down 34% to 16.685 tonnes last month from 25.329 tonnes in May.

International benchmark spot gold prices jumped about 8% in June, with bullion being sold at a premium of between $10 to $20 in China over the benchmark through the month.

A traditionally soft season for the jewellery industry, weak consumption and poor spending sentiment could have led to the drop in imports, said Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.

Not just Hong Kong, imports via other top conduit Switzerland also slumped in June, he added.

China does not provide trade data on gold. So, the Hong Kong figures serve as a proxy for flows to the mainland.

The Hong Kong data, however, might not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing. (Reporting by Harshith Aranya and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Gopakumar Warrier)

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