Gold demand up 11%

Gold demand in the world’s leading gold-consuming countries was 11% higher in the fourth quarter of 2000 than a year earlier, according to figures published by the World Gold Council (WGC), London.

At 894 tons, this set a new quarterly record for the world’s 27 major markets, topping the previous record, in the third quarter of 1999, by 2%, the WGC reported. The strong growth in the fourth quarter offset a weaker performance throughout the year so that demand for the year as a whole, at 3,281 tons, was essentially unchanged from 1999.

Jewelry consumption for the fourth quarter reached 793 tons, 12% higher than a year earlier and 5% higher than the previous record in the third quarter of 1999. Annual consumption of jewelry was also a record at 2,902 tons, 4% higher than the previous record in 1999.

In contrast to jewelry, investment demand throughout 2000 was subdued, falling 21% from the 1999 level. In 1999 investment demand was exceptionally high, particularly in the US, due to fears of widespread Y2K disruption, the WGC reported. When the disruption failed to materialize demand fell sharply in 2000, a fall exacerbated by some of the gold acquired being sold back to the market. However, by Q4 there were signs that investment was shaking off the effects of the fallout, with demand higher, by 4%, than the previous year.

Demand reached new records in several countries, according to the WGC. In India, the world’s largest market, demand edged above the previous record in 1999, despite an abnormally low number of auspicious days in the Hindu calendar for weddings and a patchy monsoon hitting rural incomes in some areas. In Turkey, demand rose 49% over 1999 enabling the country to regain its place among the world’s top five consumers. Records were also set in the Gulf States, Mexico, and Vietnam. Also of note is the 10th successive annual record for gold jewelry consumption in the United States.