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Tags: gold | India | tariff | price

India Is Vital to Keeping Gold Price Stable

By    |   Friday, 05 July 2013 07:52 AM EDT

When it comes to gold prices, it might be all about India.

India is one of the largest gold buyers and has helped keep prices stable.

Indians view gold as a trading currency and a safe haven from volatile swings of the rupee. Indians also use gold it copiously in their festivals and weddings.

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So when gold prices plunge, Indians usually rush to buy the metal, helping to stabilize prices. India's percent of gold as total imports climbed steadily in recent years, from 7.1 percent in 2007 to 12.5 percent in 2011, before sliding to 9.9 percent in 2012, CNBC reports, citing Thomson Reuters/DataStream data.

But will Indians step in this time following a 15 percent drop in gold prices over the last three months? Some experts aren't so sure.

For one thing, India hiked its gold tariff from 6 to 8 percent in June to help reduce its deficit.

Depreciation of the rupee, down 7 percent this year, also makes gold more expensive for Indians.

However, not everyone is worried. India's preference for gold has continued through rising and falling gold prices over the past 100 years, according to Arvind Panagariya, a professor of economics at Columbia University.

And other buyers from around the world will help boost demand if gold drops low enough.

For instance, buyers from the Middle East and Southeast Asia became interested when gold fell under $1,200, Kevin Grady, president of Phoenix Futures and Options, tells CNBC.

Gold investors might just have to wait for Indian demand to return. Indian weddings, which typically provide a strong boost in gold demand, don't get under way until September after the monsoons.

"Hence, there is less of a reason for Indians to shop for physical gold right now," Mihir Dange, managing director at Grafite Capital in the United Kingdom, told CNBC.

In addition to the tariff hike, the Indian government put additional restrictions on gold imports, according to The Economic Times.

That's making it more difficult for Indians to take advantage of lower international gold prices. India's gold imports in June dropped drastically in June, to less than a quarter of May's level.

"This has made the yellow metal costly in the Indian market. The rupee has also played a crucial role in increasing the landed cost of the yellow metal," Mukesh Kothari, director at Riddisiddhi Bullions, tells The Times.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult to get supplies. Most banks have stopped importing gold, which has created a supply shortage in the Indian market. Bullion dealers are offloading gold that they stocked during April and May at a high premium," says Bachhraj Bamalwa, director of Nemichand Bamalwa & Sons, according to The Times.

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When it comes to gold prices, it might be all about India.
Friday, 05 July 2013 07:52 AM
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