New Delhi / Bloomberg
Indian gold imports slumped for the third straight month in April as a rally in prices sapped demand, according to a person familiar with provisional Finance Ministry data.
Overseas purchases fell 74 percent to about 22.3 metric tons valued at 60 billion rupees ($901 million), compared with 84.3 tons or 193 billion rupees a year earlier, the person said, asking not to be identified as the data isn’t public. The world’s second-biggest user of gold imported roughly 16 tons in March.
Finance Ministry spokesman D. S. Malik couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Prices in Mumbai have jumped 21 percent this year, mirroring a global advance as concerns over the world economy attracted investors to a metal sometimes viewed as a store of value in troubled times. The rally is dulling demand in India despite the onset of wedding and festival seasons.
Jewellers shut shops for much of March to protest the government’s decision to impose a 1 percent excise tax on ornaments made and sold in India.
Some smaller jewelers extended the shutdown into April, boosting inventories and cutting imports, Bachhraj Bamalwa, a director with the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, said on May 2.
Bullion is bought during festivals and marriages as part of the bridal trousseau or gifted in the form of jewelry by relatives. Domestic demand was 848.9 tons in 2015, World Gold Council data show. The nation imports almost all the gold it consumes.