Global headwinds: RBI ramps up its gold reserves

Global headwinds: RBI ramps up its gold reserves

The RBI purchased 13.7 tonnes gold in three months from July to September.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is ramping up its gold reserves in the wake of global headwinds to Indian economy.

Gold purchase data by the World Gold Council (WGC) showed the RBI purchased 13.7 tonnes gold in three months from July to September which was over 37% of its total purchase in the calendar year 2018 and the highest since 2015.

The RBI had purchased total 21.8 tonnes of gold in the past nine months from January to September to shore up its reserves but hastened up its buys since July this year, the data showed. The RBI currently has over 566 tonnes of gold in its reserves.

The data also showed central banks in other parts of the globe enhancing their gold portfolio in order to lend a long-term stability of their reserves.

The total gold purchase by the central banks across the globe stood over 148 tonnes from July to September, again the highest by central banks since 2015.

The data revealed even investors turned to gold following a price drop in the yellow metal. Steep losses on many emerging market stock exchanges spurred a flight to safety. Concerns about further currency weakness too played its part, especially among urban consumers who invest in coins and bars.

India’s bar and coin demand picked up in the July-September period to reach 34.4 tonnes, the data showed.

Jewellery demand in the country in the quarter under review went up by 10% as rate-sensitive consumers took advantage of lower gold prices. Gold demand in India picked in July-September quarter after two consecutive quarters of decline and a worse last year in which retailers suffered GST blues and the extension of Prevention of Money Laundering Act and its application to gems and jewellery sector.

Heavy floods in the important gold-buying centre of Kerala during July and August negatively impacted gold demand as jewellers in the region reported muted sales during Onam. But demand was buoyed by marriages during the quarter, helping to offset the impact, according to WGC.

The data showed gold demand for technological usage grew for an eighth consecutive quarter. The uptick was driven by a strong demand for electronics.