Asians more likely to buy gold in next 6 months

Research company Ipsos said a quarter of the 18,594 investors interviewed for its inaugural monthly survey said they were "somewhat or very likely" to invest in gold as a security or physical metal as opposed to jewelry in the next six months.

Gold's price has retreated from the all-time high it hit in late June amid fears that a European debt crisis might spread, but it remains more than 7 percent higher year to date.

Among investors who said they would buy gold in the next six months, 47 percent said they would invest gold to protect their wealth, and 53 percent said they intended to profit from gold investments.

"When you have half of the people deciding to put forward their gold as speculation, and the other half deciding to put it in a defensive position, maybe that is just mirroring what's going on out there," said John Wright, Ipsos' senior vice president who wrote the report.

Historically, gold is viewed as a safe haven in times of economic uncertainty. It has almost quintupled from just $250 an ounce in 2001. Adjusted for inflation, analysts said gold is still far below its record high at above $2,300 an ounce.

"Are we at the bottom of a trough? Or is it simply a stagnation or stability or the new norm? That's where gold becomes important," he said.

About three-quarters of the respondents in India and Indonesia, the world's second and fourth most populous countries, and more than half of those in China said they could invest in the yellow metal.

Only 11 percent of investors surveyed in North America and 7 percent in Europe said gold investment would be likely, Ipsos said.

The Hindu festival of Dhanteras and the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, both scheduled in the second half of the year, are traditionally major gold-buying events.

About one in 10 respondents said that they had bought gold in the past six months.

Gold rallied to an all-time high at $1,264.90 an ounce on June 21. Since then, the precious metal has lost 7 percent as safe-haven buying faded on signs of economy recovery.

On Friday, spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,175 an ounce. It remains more than 7 percent higher than it was at the beginning of 2010.

Ipsos said the online survey was conducted between June 7 to June 20 in 24 countries which represent 75 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

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