'Gold demand hits 8-yr low in 2017'

AFP . London | Update:

Gold bullion. ReutersGold demand slid to an eight-year low point in 2017, an industry body said on Tuesday, as investors switched to riskier assets such as stock markets.

Global annual demand fell to 4,071.7 tonnes last year, the World Gold Council (WGC) said in a performance report for the precious metal widely regarded as a haven investment in times of economic turbulence.

"The seven-percent decline in annual gold demand was largely investment-related," said the WGC, adding that last year's total demand figure was the lowest since 2009.

John Mulligan, head of Member and Market Relations at the WGC, added: "That fall was largely driven by the sharp fall in American investor interest."l

Investment demand slumped by almost a quarter in 2017 compared with a year earlier, to 1,231.9 tonnes.

Nevertheless, gold prices jumped 13 percent last year on dollar weakness. It traded at $1,341.20 an ounce on Tuesday.

The WGC meanwhile added that India and China led a four-percent recovery in jewellery demand last year.

India is the world's second-biggest purchaser of gold behind only China but has seen demand hit by a series of government measures, including a new tax system and anti-money laundering regulation.

The WGC added that "increased use of gold in smartphones and vehicles sparked the first year of growth in technology demand since 2010."

The Council last month shone the spotlight on gold's price gains in 2017 versus that of bitcoin.

"Despite anecdotal comments from well-regarded financial commentators that gold prices and gold demand are suffering at the expense of cryptocurrencies, there isn't any quantifiable evidence that gold holdings are directly suffering from competition from cryptocurrencies," the WGC insisted in a recent report.

Meanwhile bitcoin slumped below $6,000 on Tuesday, extending a plunge since hitting almost $20,000 in December.

   
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