Global gold demand to hit four-year high

World will consume 4,370 tonnes of gold this year, the most since 2015 and up slightly from 4,364 tonnes in 2018, Metals Focus says

CORRECTION / Examples of gold bullion are on show at Merrion vaults in Dublin on January 7, 2019.  In a vault under the streets of Dublin a pot of gold owned by anxious investors is growing every day Britain edges closer to leaving the EU without a deal. / AFP / PAUL FAITH
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Global demand for gold in 2019 will rise to the highest in four years as higher consumption by jewellers offsets a fall in purchases by central banks.

The world will consume 4,370 tonnes of gold this year, the most since 2015 and up slightly from 4,364 tonnes in 2018, consultancy Metals Focus said on Monday.

Its Gold Focus 2019 report also predicted gold prices would average $1,310 an ounce this year, up from $1,268 in 2018 and the highest since 2013. Gold currently trades around $1,300 an ounce.

Gold consumption for jewellery will rise 3 per cent this year to 2,351 tonnes, driven by increases of 7 per cent in India and 3 per cent in China - the two largest markets - which will counter lower demand in the Middle East, Metals Focus said.

Purchases by the official sector, which surged almost 75 per cent in 2018 as central banks added gold to diversify their reserves, will slip 9 per cent this year to 600 tonnes, the report predicted. Physical investment demand will remain largely unchanged from 2018 at 1,082 tonnes.

Metals Focus said gold supply would rise by 1 per cent to 4,707 tonnes thanks to higher mine production and recycling and some producer hedging. Helping gold prices to rise would be the end of interest rate rises by the US Federal Reserve, along with political and economic uncertainty around the world, Metals Focus said, but it added that a strong dollar would limit gains.

Gold is traditionally seen as a safe place to invest during periods of uncertainty. Higher interest rates hurt gold because they make bullion, which pays no yield, less attractive to investors, while a stronger dollar can depress demand by making gold more expensive for buyers with other currencies.

Despite the report, old prices slipped on Monday as upbeat Chinese economic data and signs of progress in Sino-US trade talks eased some concerns about a slowdown in economic growth and boosted appetite for riskier assets.

Spot gold was down about 0.2 per cent at $1,290.01 per ounce by 07.50 GMT, after touching its lowest since March 8 at $1,286.35 on Friday.

US gold futures fell 0.3 per cent at $1,294.80 an ounce.