A saleswoman selects gold necklaces in a jewellery showroom in India
A saleswoman selects gold necklaces in a jewellery showroom in India. Gold prices have been on the rise on concerns of a slowdown in the global economy, and trade and regional tensions. Image Credit: Reuters

MUMBAI: A rally in domestic gold prices to near record levels may coax investors missing from India’s bazaars to once again buy coins and bars after little movement in the last five years.

Benchmark gold futures in Mumbai have surged 11 per cent this year to as high as Rs34,893 (Dh1,843) per 10 grams on Tuesday, just shy of a record of Rs35,074 touched in 2013.

“The whole world is getting bullish on gold now because of the economic and geopolitical tensions,” said Ketan Shroff, a director at Mumbai-based Penta Gold Pvt and a former joint secretary of the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Ltd, by phone. “People will buy gold as an investment and we may see some good demand in small coins and bars and not in jewellery.”

Spot gold surged to the highest level in six years — topping $1,430 (Dh5,251) an ounce — as fresh US sanctions on Iran added to uncertainty in global markets and the US Federal Reserve opened the door to an interest-rate cut. More gains are in store with Morgan Stanley choosing gold as its top commodity pick on a six-month view.

India’s investment demand was 341 tons in 2013 and fell to 162.4 tons last year, according to the World Gold Council. Rising prices will help investment demand and purchases of coins and bars may be higher-than-expected this year, according to Metals Focus Ltd.

“These are positive signs for long-term gold demand,” said Chirag Sheth, a senior consultant at the London-based firm. The spike in prices comes at a time when India is entering a seasonally slow demand season after June, so jewellery sales may not be impacted much, he said.

India’s gold consumption may rise 10 per cent to 15 per cent in 2019 from the 760 tons bought last year, according to Saurabh Gadgil, chairman of the Pune-based PN Gadgil Jewellers Pvt.

Despite the current rally in prices, people haven’t been lining up yet to sell their gold and that’s positive for the market, he said.

Gold demand in India has been picking up as weaker prices boosted purchases for weddings and festivals and as cash handouts and higher spending during the federal elections in April and May gave a fillip to disposable incomes. The second half of the year is usually the peak demand season in India because of festivals.

“At the consumer level, there is bullishness about gold prices,” Gadgil said by phone. Gold has been subdued for the last few years and people who have been holding back purchases — including young people who have wanted to invest for the last two-to-three years — may look to buy, he said.

Demand Revival

Consumption in the January-to-March period rose 5% on year to 159 tons and demand in the second quarter is expected to be higher due to weddings and the key auspicious gold buying day of Akshaya Tritiya, according to the WGC. Import numbers for the first five months of 2019 also suggest better sales in the local markets. Inbound shipments are estimated to have risen 44% during January-May to 416.3 tons, according to data collated by Bloomberg.