Singapore Bullion Market Association

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Hong Kong & China Q1 Market Update

By Jeremy East, Senior Representative for the Asia Region, London Bullion Market Association

Published on March 20, 2020

In Hong Kong and China, the Covid-19 situation looks to be improving steadily, with almost no new cases as of March 12. The virus and control measures have, however, had a severe impact on the regional economies and especially the local gold market.

China is the largest physical gold market globally, normally consuming approximately one-third of global gold production. Demand has been hit hard in Q1, with China gold imports significantly reduced. Gold, which usually trades on the SGE at a premium to loco London, has recently been trading at a discount. This has been seen in Hong Kong too, where physical gold is also trading at a discount. As a result, producers in the region have been making large bars and delivering them to London. Gold is flowing to the centre of the global market to satisfy ETF buying – which looks to be the main price driver.

China’s jewellery sector has also been severely affected. Major players announced that sales were down around 30-40% with many closing stores in the face of collapsing demand. Several conferences have been postponed in region, such as the SGE event in April. The LBMA Responsible Sourcing & Technology Summit in March has been cancelled, however, we are looking at online delivery of the content to our members so please keep an eye out for more information.

Looking ahead, as the situation here looks to normalise in Q2 and Q3, we may see some pent-up demand for physical gold underpinning regional premiums. However from a price perspective this might be offset by declining demand in the West due to the worsening situation there.

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JEREMY EAST is LBMA’s Senior Advisor for Asia, based in Hong Kong. He is also the Chief Executive of commodity consultancy East Wind Capital. He previously spent 11 years with Standard Chartered Bank as Managing Director and Global Head of Metals Trading & Commodities for Greater China and North Asia, and ran Commerzbank’s Precious Metals business.