NEW DELHI, Oct 25 (Reuters): Indians have turned their back on gold at a time when demand is normally at its peak, while elsewhere in Asia the metal's fall from a multi- year high has prompted only limited buying interest, dealers said today.
"This season, we normally keep our shops open Sundays, but I enjoyed being at home this Sunday," said Ranjit Rathod, a dealer in the southern Indian city of Chennai. "There is a shift in demand. Apparel and electronics shops are packed while jewellery shops are empty," he added.
Gold demand in India, the world's largest consumer, normally rises in October at the start of the festival and wedding season, and peaks in November with the Deepavali Hindu festival of lights.
But dealers have reported a drop in gold imports in key trading cities during the current festive season. In the western city of Ahmedabad, for example, daily imports have fallen to 200- 300 kg from as much as 700 kg in a normal Deepavali season.
Many Indians consider gold an auspicious metal and like to offer it as a gift during festivals.
In other parts of Asia, dealers have seen renewed buying interest from jewellers and investors as prices have fallen, but demand was not strong enough to lift premiums for gold bars.
"If the price dips to around $462 or $460, then there will be a little bit of an increase in buying," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong, a centre for bullion trading in East Asia.
Spot gold was quoted at $465.75 an ounce, well below the near-18-year high of $480.25 hit two weeks ago, when worries about rising energy costs ignited heavy speculative buying.
Premiums for gold bars were little changed at between 20 and 40 US cents an ounce to the spot London price in Hong Kong. A standard gold bar in the spot market is 400 troy ounces or 12.5 kilogrammes.