Physical gold demand picked up in major Asian hubs this week helped by a retreat in prices, with dealers in India prepared for a likely spurt in buying as the wedding season gathers pace.
With a correction in prices during the first half of the week, "jewellers have been making purchases at lower levels as they are witnessing healthy retail demand for weddings," said a Mumbai-based bullion dealer with a private bank.
Local gold futures fell to Rs 47,253 earlier this week, the lowest in a fortnight. Dealers offered discounts of up to $1 an ounce over official domestic prices - inclusive of 10.75 per cent import and three per cent sales levies - versus last week's $2 discounts.
Gold has traditionally been an integral part of weddings in India, the world's second biggest bullion consumer after China.
Lower prices drove a slight pick up in China and Japan as well. Chinese customers were charged premiums of $4-$5 an ounce over benchmark spot prices, versus last week's $1-$4.
The country's monthly net gold imports via Hong Kong jumped 56 per centin October to the highest since June 2018.
Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals, said Chinese demand should remain healthy as Christmas approaches, adding a dip in global rates below $1,800 an ounce prompted a pick in purchases.
Benchmark spot prices hit a multi-week low of $1,777.80 on Nov. 24, although concerns over a new coronavirus variant drove a rebound on Friday.
"Demand has recovered a bit in Hong Kong as well, we can see more interest in jewellery," Fung added.
Premiums of $1 per ounce were charged in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Singapore gold market has been very sluggish this week tracking a soft assets markets and the sharp selloff in equities, said David Mitchell, managing director at Indigo Precious Metals.