Even as gold may be losing its sheen in the global market, logging its longest weekly loss in prices since 1999, the yellow metal still seems to be in favour across India with low prices luring people to buy, stakeholders said.
If the footfalls at the India International Jewellery Show in Mumbai that concluded on Aug 11 is any indication, some brisk buying in gold has been reported. While the metal may no longer be an investment option, its lure has still not faded away from people's psyche, experts added.
"If prices stabilise at these levels, we expect gold sales will be good during the Diwali season. People are not buying gold bars and coins as an investment option," said Premjit Sengupta, chief marketing officer of Senco Gold in Kolkata. But the demand for jewellery was good, he added.
From a peak of $1,900 per ounce in September 2011, spot gold prices dipped to a new five-year low of $1,086 in global markets past week, breaching the $1,100 barrier on signs of a recovery in the US economy, a fall in unemployment there and stock and debt marketing offering better returns.
This has resulted in the gold import bill for India, among the top three consumers of gold in the world, going down but demand remained robust. According to the World Gold Council, the demand in India in 2015 is expected at around 900-1,000 tonnes, against 891.5 tonnes in 2014.
Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, a gold and silver refining and minting joint venture between India's state-run metals major and a reputed Swiss bullion brand, gold imports in fiscal 2015-16 could fall as much as 18% to $28 billion or so.
"With the price of gold decreasing from $1,250 to $1,100 per ounce in the past six months, import bill has decreased substantially. Thereby it has reduced stress on the current account deficit," said Rajosik Banerjee, partner with KPMG in India, told IANS.
"This will give more flexibility to the Reserve Bank of India to handle interest rates. Further, this price scenario may also lead to some realignment of portfolios," he added.
Drawing comfort from the footfalls at the Mumbai exhibition, Pankaj Parekh, former vice-chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, told IANS: "We are experiencing phenomenal sales throughout the country."
He said the situation was only going to improve in the coming months, as the festive season will be in full swing and people who have been waiting for prices to fall more will take some decisions. "Globally, people have stopped buying. But in India they are waiting for prices to come within range."
Sengupta sought to explain the reason why the past week has seen a slight slump in sales. "This is only normal, given how gold prices are reacting to market forces," he said, adding that since the consumer's interest is in jewellery, and not bars or coins, people are waiting for the festive season.
Litle wonder Khosla estimates India's gold imports in July at 70-75 million tonnes, as against 57 tonnes in June. "Jewellers have started stocking up for the festive season."