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Gold bar and coin demand dropped sharply by 30% year-on-year to 293.9 tonnes in the third quarter of this year, translating to a 32% decline in value to US$15.6bn.

15 Nov 2012

LONDON (Commodity Online): Investors continued to buy gold at historically high levels, but investment demand was down from particularly high levels seen during the same period in 2011, said World Gold Council in a quarterly report.

According to WGC, the most significant contribution to the fall in gold demand came from the drop in bar and coin investment. This was largely reflective of a lack of strong inflows in certain (notably Western) markets, rather than the emergence of any strong profit-taking activity. Demand from this category of investment was 30% weaker year-on-year at 293.9 tonnes, translating to a 32% decline in value to US$15.6bn.

However, the year-on-year drop is anomalous, given the comparison is being made with an exceptional base period; Q3 demand was actually 13% above the 5-year quarterly average of 260.6 tonnes.

It is important to note the extent to which the year-on-year comparison for bar and coin demand is affected by the extraordinary levels of demand witnessed during Q3 2011. That quarter saw a record 422.1 tonnes of bar and coin demand, which was almost double the prevailing 5-year quarterly average. Investors reacted to the conditions of the time: a worsening of the European debt crisis, a weaker US dollar, a US debt downgrade, poorly performing equity and credit markets and rising inflationary pressures – all strong drivers of demand for gold, the London based firm added.

Investors in Europe, particularly in German-speaking markets, accounted for over 50% of the 128.1 tonne decline in bar and coin demand as investors were less aggressive in their purchases relative to Q3 2011. However, regional demand of 64.8 tonnes remains close to the 68.9-tonne 5-year quarterly average and well within the higher range we have discussed previously, which has been in place since the third quarter of 2008 when the Lehman collapse accelerated demand from European investors.

Within the bar and coin segment, India was the notable outlier, generating 12% growth with demand of 87.0 tonnes (discussed below). The strength in Indian investment can also be easily depicted by the strong counter-trend growth in the ‘medals and imitation coin’ segment (+59%), the vast majority of which is accounted for by India, WGC concluded.

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