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Indians making most from longest gold price slump

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New Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkata/Bengaluru, Even as gold may be losing its sheen in the global market, logging its longest weekly loss in terms of prices since 1999, the yellow metal still seems to be in favour across India with low prices luring people to buy, stakeholders maintain.

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If the footfalls at the India International Jewelry Show in Mumbai that concluded on Aug 11 is any indication, some brisk buying in gold has been reported. While the metal may no longer be an investment option, its lure has still not faded away from people’s psyche, experts added.

“If prices stabilize at these levels, we expect gold sales will be good during the Diwali season. People are not buying gold bars and coins as an investment option,” said Premjit Sengupta, chief marketing officer of Senco Gold in Kolkata. But demand for jewelry was good, he added.

From a peak of $1,900 per ounce in September 2011, spot gold prices dipped to a new five-year low of $1,086 in global markets past week, breaching the $1,100 barrier on signs of a recovery in the US economy, a fall in unemployment there and stock and debt marketing offering better returns.

This has resulted in the gold import bill for India, among the top three consumers of gold in the world, going down but demand remained robust. According to the World Gold Council, the demand in India in 2015 is expected at around 900-1,000 tonnes, against 891.5 tonnes in 2014.

Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, a gold and silver refining and minting joint venture between India’s state-run metals major and a reputed Swiss bullion brand, gold imports in fiscal 2015-16 could fall as much as 18 percent to $28 billion or so.

“With the price of gold decreasing from $1,250 to $1,100 per ounce in the past six months, import bill has decreased substantially. Thereby it has reduced stress on the current account deficit,” said Rajosik Banerjee, partner with KPMG in India,

“This will give more flexibility to the Reserve Bank of India to handle interest rates. Further, this price scenario may also lead to some realignment of portfolios,” he added.

Drawing comfort from the footfalls at the Mumbai exhibition, Pankaj Parekh, former vice-chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, “We are experiencing phenomenal sales throughout the country.”

He said the situation was only going to improve in the coming months, as the festive season will be in full swing and people waiting for prices to fall more will take some decisions. “Globally, people have stopped buying. But in India they are waiting for prices to come within range.”

Sengupta sought to explain the reason why the past week has seen a slight slump in sales. “This is only normal, given how gold prices are reacting to market forces,” he said, adding since the interest is in jewelry, and not bars or coins, people are waiting for the festive season.

Little wonder Khosla estimates India’s gold imports in July at 70-75 million tonnes, as against 57 tonnes in June. “Jewelers have started stocking up for the festive season.”

(IANS)

Next Story

Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

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FILE - Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

Asia-Pacific
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

Coal
Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

Also Read- Oral Antifungal Drug Linked to Risk of Miscarriage

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.