China tops world gold consumers

BEIJING - China overtook India as the world's largest consumer market for gold with a jump of 32% last year, the World Gold Council said Tuesday.

Chinese consumers bought 1,066 tonnes of gold products in 2013, while their Indian counterparts bought 975 tonnes, up 13% from 2012, the London-based council reported.

Despite a 21% rise in global consumer demand, total gold demand dropped by 15% to 3,756 tonnes as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) reduced net gold holdings by 881 tonnes, it said.

''2013 has been a strong year for gold demand across sectors and geographies, with the exception of Western ETF markets,'' said 

Marcus Grubb, the council's head of investment strategy.

''Although demand has continued its shift from West to East, the growing demand for gold bars, coins and jewellery is a global  phenomenon,'' Mr Grubb said.

China is also the world's largest miner of gold, producing 428 tonnes last year according to government reports.

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