India retained its position as the largest gold-consuming nation in 2009 due largely to higher consumer demand in the fourth quarter, according to the World Gold Council (WGC), an organisation funded by the world leading gold mining companies.
Out of every 100 grams of gold bought worldwide, 14 grams were bought by Indian consumers, who continued to buy gold for jewellery and investment purposes even as the average price of the yellow metal ruled 12 per cent higher at $972.35 an ounce in the international market from the 2008 levels.
''Tonnage offtake in the fourth quarter totalled 180.7 tonne, up 17 per cent from 154.4 tonne in the previous quarter and up 13 per cent from 159.6 tonne in the fourth quarter 2008,'' said WGC in its gold demand trends for the fourth quarter of 2009. ''Seasonal factors assisted the quarter-on-quarter improvement, as the fourth quarter marked the start of the wedding and festive seasons, including Diwali. Nevertheless, in light of the rally in gold price during that quarter, it is still an encouraging result.''
The overall annual tonnage stood at 480 tonne, which was down 33 per cent from 712.6 tonne in 2008. However India held on to its position as the largest gold-consuming nation in the world. Included in India's annual total is an upward revision to the second and third quarter results as a result of the incorporation of new data. However, India would have still led the rest of the world in gold consumption without the revision, according to the WGC.
Total annual consumer demand from Greater China in comparison was 461.9 tonne, up 7 per cent from 2008 levels. According to the report, the Reserve Bank of India's decision to buy 200 tonnes of gold from IMF had played a key role in influencing positive sentiment and gold price expectation in the fourth quarter.
There was a supply surplus in 2009, the first time in three years with demand falling on soaring prices that hit disposable incomes of consumers severely.