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China overtakes India as top gold consumer

Chinese consumers bought 1,066 tonnes of gold products in 2013, while their Indian counterparts bought 975 tonnes, up 13 per cent from 2012, the London-based council reported.

Despite a 21 per cent rise in global consumer demand, total gold demand dropped by 15 per cent to 3,756 tonnes as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) reduced net gold holdings by 881 tonnes, it said.

“2013 has been a strong year for gold demand across sectors and geographies, with the exception of Western ETF markets,” said Marcus Grubb, the council’s head of investment strategy.

“Although demand has continued its shift from West to East, the growing demand for gold bars, coins and jewellery is a global phenomenon,” Grubb said.

China’s retail sales of gold jewellery were worth some 400 billion yuan ($67 billion) in 2013, state broadcaster China Central Television said on Tuesday.

“Judging from the quality of growth and the market potential for gold in China for the past few years, there is no surprise that China should become a leading country for gold,” Song Xin, president of China Gold Association, told the broadcaster.

China is also the world’s largest miner of gold, producing 428 tonnes last year according to government reports.