India’s gold imports to rebound in 2017 on restocking, good monsoon

Two-thirds of India’s gold demand comes from rural areas, where jewelry is a traditional store of wealth. (Reuters)
Updated 13 August 2017
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India’s gold imports to rebound in 2017 on restocking, good monsoon

PANAJI, India: India’s gold imports are likely to jump by a third in 2017 to 750 tons on restocking by jewellers and as good monsoon rainfall is expected to boost demand in rural areas during the upcoming festive season, a leading refiner said.
Higher imports by the world’s second biggest consumer will support global prices, which are trading near their highest level in two months, but could widen the country’s trade deficit.
“Demand and imports are normalizing after taking a hit last year. Jewellers are restocking after destocking last year,” said Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, the country’s biggest refinery.
India, whose gold consumption is rivalled only by China’s, imported 557.7 tons of gold in 2016, the lowest in 13 years, according to the World Gold Council.
In the first seven months of the 2017, imports more than doubled to 550 tons from the same period a year earlier, according to provisional data from consultancy GFMS.
But import growth would taper off in coming months as jewellers had restocked earlier than usual this year, fearing higher taxes, Khosla said on the sidelines of the International Gold Convention in Panaji, capital of India’s western resort state of Goa.
As part of a new nationwide sales tax regime that kicked in on July 1, the goods and services tax on gold jumped to 3 percent from 1.2 percent previously.
“Jewellery demand has improved this year but investment demand is still weak due to a rally in the stock market and the appreciating rupee,” said Prithviraj Kothari, managing director of RiddiSiddhi Bullions.
The rupee has risen nearly 6 percent so far in 2017 and is trading near its highest level in more than two years.
“Monsoon rainfall is normal this year. This will boost rural demand during the festivals,” said a Singapore-based official with a leading gold supplying bank to India.
Two-thirds of India’s gold demand comes from rural areas, where jewelry is a traditional store of wealth.
The quarter ending in December typically accounts for about a third of India’s gold sales since it includes the start of the wedding season and festivals such as Dhanteras and Diwali, when buying gold is considered auspicious.


Egypt hikes gas prices by up to 75 pct in IMF-backed austerity plan

Updated 21 July 2018
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Egypt hikes gas prices by up to 75 pct in IMF-backed austerity plan

  • The increases follow hikes to fuel, electricity and public transport prices

CAIRO: Egypt said on Saturday it was raising the price of natural gas for home and commercial use by up to 75 percent, the latest move in an IMF-backed austerity program that has left many Egyptians struggling to make ends meet.
The increases follow hikes to fuel, electricity and public transport prices that are part of a $12 billion IMF loan program signed in 2016 that aims to lure back investors and lift the economy battered by political turmoil since 2011.
The government statement published in the Official Gazette said that, effective Aug. 1, the price for consuming up to 30 cubic meters of gas had been set at 0.175 Egyptian pounds ($0.0098) per cubic meter, up from 0.100 pounds.
The price for consuming between 30 and 60 cubic meters was set at 0.250 pounds, up from 0.175 pounds, while consumption of more than 60 cubic meters was set at 0.300 pounds from 0.225 pounds.
The statement did not specify the timeframes over which the consumption levels apply. But officials said they covered the usual billing period, which is monthly in Egypt.
Price hikes under the three-year IMF program helped drive up Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rate to 14.4 percent in June. Analysts said the impact of cutting energy subsidies was feeding through to the broader economy faster than expected.

($1 = 17.8500 Egyptian pounds)