Gold premiums in India jumped to their highest in nearly three months this week, as jewellers continued to stock up on hopes of more customers visiting stores as the festive season gathers pace.
The country celebrates Dussehra on Sunday and Diwali and Dhanteras in November, when buying gold is considered auspicious.
"Investment demand was good in the last few days. Retail demand for jewellery is still weak, but it could improve during the festive season," said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based gold wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.
On Friday, local gold futures traded at around Rs 50,920 per 10 grams. Prices hit an all-time high of Rs 56,191 in August.
Dealers charged premiums of $5 an ounce this week over official domestic prices, inclusive of 12.5 per cent import and 3 per cent sales taxes, versus the $1 premiums last week.
Jewellers have been banking on festive-season buying for a revival in demand and are offering lower prices, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.
In top consumer China, discounts narrowed to $30-33.5 per ounce over global benchmark spot prices, versus $30-$35 discounts last week.
"Spending sentiment has remained soft," said Samson Li, Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS.
However inventory "levels on the streets" have reduced as some companies, including wholesalers, buy up old precious metals, possibly to export at a later stage.
In Hong Kong, gold was sold between a $0.50 discount to a $1.50 premium.
In Singapore, premiums were unchanged at $0.80-1.20 an ounce.
"We've seen a bit more of selling when prices were higher, but buying was quiet... Retail clients are selling," said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central.
Japanese gold was sold from flat to a $0.50 an ounce premium.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Jewellers Association raised prices of all types of gold by up to 2,333 taka ($27.57) per bhori or 11.664 grams.
($1 = 84.6300 taka)