Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gold Demand Remains Strong Despite Dip In Price (China, ETF, jewelry, bullion, central banks, supply)

          Between January 2012 and January 2013 central banks showed an insatiable desire for gold !   Even though prices weren't as high as they were in 2011 ($1895 in September 2011 vs $1780 September 2012) they were high enough as to give holders of the yellow metal a unique opportunity to sell at a generous price. 

So did debt laden countries sell ?  NOPE !  in fact just the opposite happened:
Italy kept its reserves stable at 2451.8 tonnes but because its total reserves fell slightly the % of reserves represented by gold went up from 71.0% -> 72.5%. 
Holdings by Greece actually went up 0.3 t to 111.9 tonnes which means gold now represents 82.7% of reserves up from 81.5% last year.
 Spain 29.7% -> 30.4%        281.6 tonnes ranks #18 globally
more information about gold reserves at International Gold Reserves by Country


China The Sleeping Giant

Though officially no significant movement was made by the Chinese, the world's second largest economy has routinely showed interest in boosting its reserves.  $3.3 trillion is in American dollars but the gold that it has is only worth around $50 billion (at a spot price of around $1500 an ounce). 

China has been the leading gold producing nation since 2007, at 370 tonnes in 2012 (+15t), its output is about the same as Russia and South Africa combined.  Because most of the gold is mined at many small operations by minor companies, it's not so easy to keep track of where all that gold ends up.  Taking into consideration the large number of nationalized companies in China and that almost none of China's gold output makes it out of the country, it's possible that Chinese reserves are higher than officially stated.  The only incentive China would have to not disclose the actual amount is to keep the price relatively stable, since skyrocketing gold prices would wreak havoc to their consumer market (jewelry demand alone is 265.5 tonnes, more than total US consumer demand in 2012).
America's excessive printing of money is another reason China needs to diversify out of the US dollar.  Gold represents only 1.7% of China's reserves compared to 64.1% average for all other countries (up from 62.6%).  To put things into perspective, if China's gold represented the same fraction of total reserves as US holdings do, China would have 5.8 times as much gold as the United States (47.2 tonnes).

Gold Demand for jewelry (-3.2%), bullion (-17.1%) down in 2012 but demand by central banks (457 -> 535t), ETF's (185 -> 279t), and China (779.8 -> 776.1t) remains strong.


Countries More Picky About Where Gold Is Stored

Germany announced earlier in 2013 that it wants to repatriate 674 tonnes of its reserves from American (300 tonnes) and French (374 tonnes) vaults.  Other countries such as Switzerland are also thinking about doing the same thing.  Switzerland has 20% of its reserves in the UK, 10% in Canada; Switzerland did this originally as a way to keep its gold safe during war times.