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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: China gold demand starts 2022 on a high

With the latest Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) statistics for January having now been published it is apparent that 2022 gold demand levels in China are starting the year where they ended 2021 – significantly higher than a year earlier.  If we equate SGE monthly gold withdrawals as being a guide to the world No. 1 gold consumer’s total annual demand levels, the latest figures demonstrate a 16% increase over those for the initial month of 2021 at 185.51 tonnes as compared with 159.49 tonnes a year earlier.  By comparison 2020 January SGE gold withdrawals came in at only 110.87 tonnes when demand will have been strongly affected by measures being taken to try and control the onset of the Covid-19 virus pandemic.

Table: China SGE Monthly Gold Withdrawals 2020-2022 (Tonnes)

 Month

2022

2021

2020

% change 2021-2022

% change 2020-2022

January

185.51

159.49

110.87

+16.3%

+67.3%

February*

 92.39

 28.99

 

March

 167.74

 82.27

 

April

 148.04

 95.80

 

May

 105.06

 69.18

 

June

 132.80

 85.71

 

July

 110.61

 82.94

 

August

 149.95

 111.37

 

September

 190.87

 153.98

 

October*

 136.62

 94.28

 

November

 158.31

 127.65

 

December

 193.44

 162.30

 

Full year

 

1,745.70

1,205.33

 

 Source:  Shanghai Gold Exchange, Sharps Pixley.

*Months incorporating Golden Week holidays when SGE closed for a week

As we have commented before we equate total Chinese gold consumption to SGE gold withdrawal levels as they come out far closer to the total of China’s own gold production – it is the world’s No.1 gold producer – plus known gold imports from countries which publish their gold export data, plus allowances for scrap conversion and unknown imports.  Other estimates of Chinese demand come in usually at well below these levels, seemingly ignoring huge swathes of gold demand which disappears into the Chinese financial sector.  There is also the strong suspicion that China may have also been adding to its national gold reserves while concealing this from its officially reported precious metals statistics.

Indeed the SGE gold withdrawal figure at the start of the current year is the highest January figure since 2019 when gold demand over the first half of the year was running strong although it tailed off in the second half for an annual total of only 1,642 tonnes after reaching over 2,000 tonnes in 2018.  Last year’s total global gold demand picked up strongly in the second half of the year and was on the rise again, ending up at over 1,745 tonnes, so if the current year’s Chinese gold demand continues to track higher at a similar rate, full year 2022 Chinese gold consumption could come out at back over 2,000 tonnes again.  With a similarly decent gold demand pickup in the world’s No.2 consuming nation, India, and other indications that worldwide jewellery demand is also on the rise, then  global gold demand could well be in for a strong year which should help combat headwinds which may be springing up elsewhere.

09 Feb 2022 | Categories: Gold, China, India

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