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Customers search stores for 'bargain' gold

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-17 07:57

Wang Yufeng, a 57-year-old Shanghai resident, elbowed other customers in a crowded gold jewelry store in Shanghai's Zhabei district on Tuesday, to have a closer look at the price tag of a set of gold jewelry behind the glass counter.

Without hesitation she swiped her card, paying 12,600 yuan ($2,032) for the items, a gift to her daughter who is getting married soon.

The set, which included a pair of earrings, a necklace and a bracelet, cost around 14,000 yuan just a week ago.

"I've been waiting for lower prices for weeks, and now it's time to move," said Wang.

Gold futures for April delivery on Monday fell 9.4 percent, the biggest one-day drop in 30 years, to a two-year low at $1,360.6 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

But while gold markets in the United States and Europe saw panic selling, sales of gold bars and jewelry jumped in China as buyers viewed the lower prices as an opportune moment to invest.

Wang was not alone.

Gold stores and banks which sell retail gold investment products reported surging sales on Monday and Tuesday, according to media reports from across the country.

In Guangzhou, an investor spent 6 million yuan for 20 kg of gold bars, Xin Kuai Bao, a local daily newspaper, reported.

Cao Mengluo, a manager at Beijing Caishikou Department Store, a leading gold store in the city, said business was considerably brisker than usual.

Small jewelry items such as gold earrings sold out, but most buyers were interested in investment items, such as gold bars.

Gold investment products were selling for 274 yuan per gram, and gold jewelry 378 yuan per gram at Beijing stores on Tuesday.

China is the world's second-largest gold consuming country, just behind India.

"Bulk buying of gold bars or jewelry happens about two or three times a year when the gold price goes down more than 3 percent in a week, and investors move fast not to miss out on making money," said Yan Lei, a Shanghai-based gold product investment manager with Shenyi Investment Consultancy Co Ltd.

But Yan cautioned against investors making rash purchases, because it is still hard to tell if prices are at their lowest levels.

Shanghai's Laomiao Jewelry in New World Department Store on West Nanjing Road said trading volumes for gold bars, the most popular products, reached 400,000 yuan on Monday, almost double that of previous days.

Cai Xiaoling, a shop assistant at a jewelry store at Yu Garden in Shanghai, a hub for gold retailers, added: "I didn't have a moment even to drink water this morning, as there were so many buyers. I was answering questions from them, I was issuing invoices and helping with payments."

Shanghai-based Laofengxiang Jewelry announced it had adjusted the retail price for 999-fine gold to 395 yuan per gram on Tuesday, from 402 yuan per gram on Sunday.

The jewelry retailer Chow Sang Sang lowered the price of its 999 gold to 359 yuan per gram on Tuesday from 389 yuan per gram on Monday.

Analysts said investors need to clarify their goals before making any decisions on buying gold at the moment, as recovering macro-economic situations in the US and Europe may reduce the hedging value of the metal further, making it hard to tell whether the current price has bottomed out.

Wang Zhuoqiong in Beijing and Tang Zhihao in Shanghai contributed to this story.


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