MUMBAI/BENGALURU - A rally in domestic prices curtailed physical gold demand in India and Japan, with interest in the precious metal lacklustre in other Asian centres as markets gradually return from the Lunar New Year holidays.
In India, gold traded around 34,400 rupees per 10 grams, not far off a record high of 35,074 rupees hit in August 2013. Local prices have jumped more than 13 percent in the past six months.
"Consumers don't want to make purchases at the current price level. They are waiting for a correction," said Ketan Shroff, managing director of Mumbai-based bullion dealer Penta Gold.
Retail consumers may, however, resume buying for weddings if prices stay at current levels for a fortnight, Shroff said.
Dealers in India were offering a discount of up to $5 an ounce over official domestic prices this week, up from a discount of $1.5 last week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent import tax.
Most jewellers are not making purchases from banks due to weak retail demand and rising scrap supplies, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank.
Demand in Japan also remained weak as local gold prices surged, with the metal being sold at a discount of 50 cents to the global spot price, a Tokyo-based trader said.
Individual investors are selling the precious metal to make profit as gold priced in yen is climbing, the trader added.
Yen denominated gold rose to its highest since early February, 2018 this week.
In top consumer China, premiums dropped to $7-$10 an ounce over the benchmark from the $10-$12 charged in the week ending February 1, traders said.
"The volumes have dropped a bit after the Lunar New Year as a lot of traders are still off in China," said a trader based in Singapore.
Premiums of 50-80 cents were charged in Singapore compared with 80 cents last week. Hong Kong premiums were in a 50 cents to $1.30 an ounce range, little changed from last week.
Spot gold prices have been hemmed in a tight range for most of this week, as investors awaited the outcome of the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks.
"Until there is a solution to what is happening globally with Brexit and trade talks, we might see no clear direction," said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.