MUMBAI: Gold imports by India, the world’s second-biggest market after China, surged 37 percent in December after falling for three straight months, according to a person familiar with the data. Inward shipments increased to 77.7 metric tons from 56.9 tons a year ago, the person said, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public. In value terms, purchases rose 39.8 percent to 176.7 billion rupees ($2.8 billion). Finance Ministry spokesman D.S. Malik declined to comment.
The data is the latest sign that Asia’s No. 3 economy is recovering from a new consumption tax implemented in July, which had weakened demand and disrupted businesses. Jewelry is among India’s top exports, accounting for about 15 percent of total sales from April through October. Including December’s purchases, India’s total imports of gold jumped 66 percent in 2017 to 946.3 tons, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Indian consumers probably bought 650-750 tons of the metal last year, according to the World Gold Council — similar to 2016 levels which marked the slackest demand since 2009. In the past year, the sector has also been hurt by tougher requirements for buyers to prove their identity before a purchase, and the capping of the amount of cash used in these transactions.