Gold demand dropped to its lowest in a decade in the third quarter

Gold bars are stacked in the safe deposit boxes room of the Pro Aurum gold house in Munich, Germany

Global demand for gold in the third quarter of 2020 was the lowest in 11 years, as investors rush to stockpile bullion slowed, and central banks sold metal for the first time in a decade, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Thursday.

The coronavirus pandemic collapsed jewelry sales, usually the most significant gold demand source, but this has been offset by investors looking for an asset they see as a safe store of value.

The jewelry market recovered slightly in the third quarter, including in China and India, the largest, but not enough to compensate for the slower pace of stockpiling by investors in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), the WGC said.

Global gold demand was 892.3 tonnes over the July-September quarter, down 19% from the third quarter of 2019 and the lowest since Q3 2009, during the financial crisis, according to the WGC.

Demand in the first nine months of the year, at 2,972.1 tonnes, was 10% lower than in 2019 and the least since 2009.

Investor demand pushed gold prices XAU= from around $1,500 an ounce in January to a record high of $2,072.50 in August, putting off price-sensitive jewellery buyers.

But reduced purchases since then by ETFs, which store gold for investors, have seen prices fall to around $1,900.

While ETFs slowed their growth, purchases of gold bars and coins increased in the third quarter as rising demand in China, India, and Turkey added to high sales in Europe and the United States.

Jewelry demand in China and India is likely to rise in the final quarter, and central banks should again be buyers, said the WGC’s Krishan Gopaul.

But ongoing economic uncertainty, low-interest rates, and government stimulus mean investors will remain the market’s driving force, he said.

“The environment we’re in is unlikely to change significantly any time soon,” he said.

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