MUMBAI/BENGALURU - Gold demand was modest this week at major buying centres in Asia as a drop in prices attracted some investors, but most buyers held back purchases in anticipation of a further dip.
Prices fell to their lowest level in seven months in India, which encouraged jewellers to replenish stocks.
"Ahead of festival season, jewellers are building stocks," said Harshad Ajmera, the proprietor of JJ Gold House, a wholesaler in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.
In the Indian market, gold futures were trading at around 29,400 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, after falling to 29,369 rupees earlier this week, the lowest level since January 2018.
Dealers in India were charging a premium of up to $1.5 an ounce over official domestic prices this week, up from $1 last week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent import tax.
Jewellers have been making small purchases as retail demand is still subdued, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank.
"Global prices were quite volatile in the last few days. A few buyers are waiting for prices to fall below $1200 an ounce," the dealer said.
Indian gold demand is set to improve in the second half of 2018, after falling 6 percent in the first half, as government steps to boost farmers' incomes are expected to lift rural buying power, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Thursday.
Spot gold prices dropped to their lowest since July 2017 at $1,204.91 on Thursday and fell for the fourth straight week.
"A lot of investors are still waiting as they expect prices to fall further. If the price falls below $1,200, it will attract more buying," Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore, said.
In Singapore, premiums fell slightly to 80 cents from 90 cents- $1.1 last week, due to a slight drop in demand.
In top consumer China, premiums were at $1-$3, compared with $1-$2 last week, as the local currency weakened against the U.S. dollar, amid an ongoing trade dispute with the United States.
"There is some buying in China and Hong Kong. But it is not really aggressive. We don't know if demand will pick up as the dollar is getting expensive," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
Premiums in Hong Kong rose to around $1-$1.40 this week from 60 cents last week.
Japan premiums stood at 50 cents even as lower prices drove sales this week, a Tokyo-based trader said.