Investors are seeking to diversify their assets on prospects for further currency weakness
Singapore: As the yuan retreats, China is taking in more gold. The world’s biggest consumer of the precious metal raised bullion imports from Hong Kong in September for the first time in four months as investors sought to diversify their assets on prospects for further currency weakness.
Net purchases were 44.9 metric tonnes from 41.9 tonnes in August, according to data on Thursday from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department compiled by Bloomberg. The mainland bought 64.8 tonnes compared with 55.2 tonnes in August, while exports were 19.9 tonnes from 13.2 tonnes. Mainland China doesn’t publish the figures.
The offshore yuan sank to a record this week as Chinese policymakers signaled they are willing to allow greater currency flexibility amid a slump in exports and rise in the dollar. Further losses in China’s currency, as well as investors’ concerns over the outlook for the nation’s property market, may spur gold demand in China, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note.
“The depreciation of the yuan and the property investment clampdown were both positive factors for the rebound in imports as domestic investors seek to diversify portfolios,” said Wayne Gordon, executive director for commodities and foreign exchange at the wealth management unit at UBS Group AG.
Shipments of gold from Switzerland to China rose to 35.5 tonnes last month from 19.9 tonnes in August while exports to Hong Kong fell to 11.5 tonnes from 24 tonnes, according to data from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. The European country is a major gold-trading center and home to several refineries.
The higher Chinese imports came in a month when global prices and holdings in exchange-traded funds rose only 0.5 per cent as investors weighed comments from Federal Reserve officials on a possible US rate increase. Spot bullion traded at $1,271.44 (Dh4,666.18) an ounce on Friday, set for a monthly decline.
This week, the offshore yuan has traded at the weakest level in data going back to August 2010. In Shanghai’s spot market, the currency has lost more than 4 per cent since the start of 2016, dropping to the lowest level in six years.