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China's gold output, consumption rise in 2023, gold ETFs add 9.53 tonnes in Q3

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(Kitco News) - China’s gold production and consumption both increased over the first nine months of 2023, while the country’s gold ETFs also saw significant inflows in the third quarter, according to a report from Xinhua.

“China produced 271.248 tonnes of gold in the first nine months of 2023, up 1.261 tonnes or 0.47 percent compared with the same period last year,” the report said, citing data released by the China Gold Association (CGA). “In the January-September period, gold consumption in China totaled 835.07 tonnes, up 7.32 percent year on year.”

The CGA data also revealed a rise in the consumption of gold jewelry and gold bars and coins in the Chinese market. “Consumption of gold jewelry in the Chinese market rose 5.72 percent year on year to 552.04 tonnes, while that of gold bars and coins surged 15.98 percent from the same period in 2022 to 222.37 tonnes,” they said.

However, not all sectors saw an increase in gold consumption. “During the period, consumption of gold for industrial and other use fell 5.53 percent from a year earlier to 60.66 tonnes,” the report said.

The third quarter also witnessed significant inflows to the holdings of Chinese gold-backed exchange-traded funds. “In the third quarter alone, holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in China added 9.53 tonnes,” the CGA said.

This addition brought the total holdings of gold ETFs in the Chinese market to about 59.69 tonnes by the end of September.

According to a recent report from Vladimir Zernov, Market Analyst at FX Empire, China is selling off massive quantities of its U.S. assets, and has little choice but to reallocate the funds to gold.

Zernov said he believes gold is one of the few viable alternatives to U.S. Treasuries. “In this scenario, China could increase its gold purchases in the upcoming months,” he wrote.

According to recent data from the U.S. Treasury, Chinese investors sold $21.2 billion worth of U.S. assets in the month of August. “While Fed policy outlook was the biggest driver behind the sell-off in Treasuries, it looks that China’s activity contributed to the move that pushed the yield of 30-year Treasuries towards 5.00%,” he wrote.

Zernov said he believes that, contrary to the prevailing market view, high Treasury yields may actually serve as an additional bullish catalyst for gold. “Traders are searching for safe-haven assets due to geopolitical tensions,” he wrote. “Treasuries are considered to be among the safest assets in the world, but their price is falling for months, and some investors may choose to buy gold.”

Chinese investors may be among the first ones to redeploy their funds to gold markets, he said.

Recent gold purchase data supports the theory that China is moving heavily into gold as they move to liquidate U.S. debt, with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) buying gold at a torrid pace.

According to updated foreign reserve data, China’s central bank bought 29 tonnes of gold in August, lifting year-to-date purchases to 155 tonnes. It was also the central bank's biggest purchase since December.

And it’s not just the Chinese state that’s shown a voracious appetite for the yellow metal. Recent months have seen China’s domestic gold prices spike well above international spot prices as the country’s wealthy and middle class have clamored to secure the value of their own savings.

The population’s desire for gold was so great that the PBoC intervened in the market by banning banks from importing gold, which pushed the spread between the spot price of gold in Shanghai and in London to a record $121 per ounce in mid-September.

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