In the latest sovereign gold bonds (SGB) issue that ended two days ahead of Akshaya Tritiya 2020 (26 April), the Government of India sold bonds worth Rs 822 crore. According to a Business Standard report that ascertained official sales data, the amount of SGBs sold was the third-highest ever since the government's first issue in September 2016. In terms of quantity, of the underlying gold, at 1.77 tonnes, the sale in April was the highest since July 2017.
While these numbers may have been a result of lesser gold investment venues for investors for the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya amid the nationwide lockdown, data for the first three months have shown a change in the way investments were made in the metal in the first few months of 2020.
While the data for the month of April is not out yet, there were fresh inflows of Rs 194 crore into gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) during March.
On the other hand, the lastest global demand trends report by World Gold Council (WGC) showed that jewellery demand in India fell by 41 percent in the March ended quarter to 73.9 tonnes on account of high gold prices and COVID-19.
The country's bullion imports for the period fell 56 percent to 78.4 tonnes, which is the lowest over the past 32 quarters that WGC has collected data for.
Scrap or sale of old gold rose 16 percent to 18.5 tonnes, while investment demand was down 17 percent to 28.1 tonnes, it said.
Overall, consumer demand for gold in India fell 36 percent from the same period a year ago to 101.9 tonnes.
The demand for the metal at retail jewellers is expected to be much lower this quarter as gold prices in India remain near its all-time high, weddings being called-off and shutdown of outlets.
Meanwhile, there has been an 80 percent year-on-year increase in total global gold investment demand, which includes bars, coins and gold-backed ETF investments, in the March-ended quarter to a four-year high of 539.6 metric tons, WGC said.
It said that the demand was fueled by rush for safe-haven assets amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The figure includes inflows of 298 metric tons for gold-backed ETFs to record-high holdings of 3,185 metric tons for the January-March period.