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De Beers diamond sales rise as demand recovers from COVID-19 hit

Kitco News

Nov 18 (Reuters) - Sales of rough diamonds at De Beers rose more than 12% in the latest sales cycle, its parent Anglo American said on Wednesday, as demand improves on the back of easing COVID-19 restrictions and ahead of the December festive season.

De Beers, the world's biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has struggled with a drop in sales and prices as the pandemic hammered demand and related lockdowns prevented buyers from traveling to sale sites.

The company had in July warned of job cuts and outlined a plan to overhaul its business. Sales of $450 million in the ninth sales cycle, or between Nov. 2 and Nov. 16, was higher than the $400 million a year earlier.

However, it was a slight decline from the $467 million it sold in the eighth cycle between Sept. 21 and Oct. 9.

De Beers Chief Executive Officer Bruce Cleaver said he expects "reasonable" demand to continue throughout the holiday season, adding that there was stable consumer demand for diamond jewelry at the retail level in the United States and China.

Jefferies analysts called the sales number "a small victory", adding that they expect prices and demand for De Beers' rough diamonds to rise in 2021, as production is expected to fall by about 10% over the next year and demand improves as economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The takeaway is that H1 2020, which is now in the rearview mirror, was indeed the trough for Anglo."

On Tuesday, rival Petra Diamond Ltd , which operates three diamond mines in South Africa and one in Tanzania, said that the diamond market has been improving. However, the companies have warned that the resurgence of COVID-19 in some regions could pose a threat to the nascent recovery. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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