Dubai demand for gold has been witnessing a massive surge since the price collapse of last month, with demand far outstripping supply.
Various estimates suggest that demand in the past few weeks has been nothing short of astronomical, surging by 10 times the normal demand.
According to the latest precious metals weekly report by Gerhard Schubert, Head of Precious Metals at local bank Emirates NBD, “Participants of the physical industry in Dubai believe that an additional 50 tonnes have been bought since the price crash in April. These sales figures are in addition to the ‘usual’ numbers and put a little perspective on the derivative side of the market.”
The usual numbers that Schubert refers to are the same as the demand seen since April. According to World Gold Council data, total consumer demand for gold in the UAE (not just Dubai) stood at 51.8 tonnes for the entire year 2012, which means that demand was about 4.31 tonnes per month during last year.
Compared with that, as Schubert mentions, Dubai demand in the past few weeks has been 50 tonnes plus ‘usual’ numbers, in effect reflecting the massive surge in interest that gold has seen in this past few weeks.
“Physical markets have done magically well in recent weeks with people from the industry commenting on the amounts of gold bought in regional markets,” wrote Schubert.
“This is the new gold rush,” quipped the manager of a Mall of the Emirates outlet of a major Dubai-based gold retailer, who said he did not wish to be named as he’s not authorised to talk to the media.
“We have been running out of gold coins and bars even before they reach our stores,” he added. “There are people who are ‘pre-booking’ gold bars with us, and they collect it once new supply arrives,” he said.
The pre-booking that the manager refers to entails customers paying a down payment, usually 10 to 15 per cent, of the price of the gold bar to reserve it for them, and then collect it when the physical bar is supplied, at the current gold rate.
“One commentator said that the physical off-take in Hong Kong has been to the tune of 30 tonnes between the April 29 and the May 2 alone,” Schubert wrote in his weekly report.
To put things in perspective, Hong King gold demand for 2012 stood at 28.5 tonnes, which mathematically means about 2.4 tonnes a month. Compares with that, the 30 tonnes off-take in four days goes on to show the massive physical support that gold has at these price levels.
“Gold refineries are currently working flat out 24/7 in order to satisfy orders from all over the world,” says Schubert.
“The refineries need to borrow gold from the market in order to be able to produce the small investment bars, coins, jewellery etc. However the borrowing from the gold refineries of the world do not explain the sudden rise in borrowing cost for gold, especially with the huge amount of gold liquidity (theoretically) available from the redemptions of ETF holdings. Another possibility could be that there is renewed interest from the gold producer side to re-engage in forward hedging. ‘The Return of the Hedger’ could become another classic after the near extinction of the species in the early years of this century,” he added.
All this is being amplified by the gold demand from India and China – two of the world’s top gold consumers.
“Chinese gold import numbers reached record highs, with March imports from Hong Kong reaching 224 tonnes. This means that the imports for the first quarter of 2013 have reached 378 tonnes. India has also seen record import levels. April saw imports of more than 100 tonnes and the same is expected for May. However, this might be in anticipation of increased sales for Akshaya Tritiya, but possibly more so in front of the restrictions for gold imports from the Reserve Bank of India, which are expected to come into force at the end of this month. Nevertheless, both countries, i.e. India and China, are well on their way to breach the 1,000 tonne-level for physical demand in 2013,” says Schubert.
The price of an ounce of gold dipped to $1,420 intra-day on Friday, May 10, 2013, the last trading of the week, but recovered to just under $1,450 per ounce after the market closed.
“Gold prices tried and failed last week again to break the initial resistance level at $1,485. This level has now been tested twice and will provide a decent resistance level for the near future,” maintains Schubert.
But f demand from Dubai and Hong Kong – not to mention India and China – is anything to go by, get ready to once again buy an ounce of gold at $1,600 sooner than later.