The recent rally in gold prices has been a welcome bright spot in metals. With prices soaring from $1,050 per ounce early in January to nearly $1,250 the last week.
That’s had some observers suggesting a major rally may be at hand — with the yellow metal about to reclaim some of the big losses it took in 2013, when it fell from $1,700.
But news this week suggests caution may be in order when it comes to the current price action. At least for the next few weeks.
Those developments are coming from the world’s top gold-buying nation: India. Where reports show that gold buyers have withdrawn from the market in unprecedented numbers.
Local press reported yesterday that discounts on gold purchases being offered by India’s sellers have hit record levels. With vendors now offering to sell gold at up to $50/oz below global spot prices.
That level of discount has never been seen before in the country. In fact, financial papers in India were abuzz last week when gold discounts hit $35/oz — a mark that was then a new all-time high.
All of which suggests that India’s gold buyers are holding off purchasing new bullion. A fact that was confirmed by a banking source in nearby Singapore, who said, “Demand has been slow across the region for the past few days. It’s almost dead.”
Analysts have cited a number of possible explanations for the fall-off in India’s gold buying. Including inclement weather, and higher prices curbing demand.
But it appears there’s one major factor at play here — possible changes to India’s import taxes, which could be coming very soon.
Sources said there’s widespread speculation that India’s federal government is getting ready to scrap the current 10% import duty on gold. A move that many buyers believe could be announced as part of the national budget, set to be unveiled on February 29.
Many buyers are therefore apparently holding off on purchases ahead of this date — waiting to see if prices will be lower after the tax is removed.
This could mean that buying will be subdued the next two weeks leading up to the February 29 budget. But we could see a surge in purchases after that date — if the tax is cut, or even if it’s maintained and buyers lose their reason to delay purchases.
Watch the price action over the remainder of the month — and keep an eye out for announcements on gold taxes here on February 29.
Here’s to the waiting game,