* India premiums jump to six-month high
* China’s Shenzhen unveils plan to become gold hub
Feb 5 (Reuters) – Physical gold demand picked up in China this week ahead of the Lunar New Year festival, while Indian retail buyers cheered a sharp dip in domestic rates.
Singapore dealers, meanwhile, flagged a possible supply crunch fuelled by a surge in interest for silver.
Chinese dealers charged premiums of $0.50-$5 an ounce over benchmark spot gold prices.
Demand is “a little better due to the Lunar new year,” said Ronald Leung, chief dealer for Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong, adding premiums could rise further if prices remain low following the holiday.
Gold rates in the top consumer flipped to a premium for the first time in 11 months mid-January, as demand showed signs of recovery from a pandemic-induced slump.
In Hong Kong, dealers sold bullion between a discount of $2.50 an ounce and a $2 premium.
In Singapore, customers were charged a $1.2-$2 an ounce premium over benchmark prices, with a rush for silver continuing even after spot prices for both silver and gold retreated after a sharp retail-frenzy driven rally in silver, dealers said.
“We’re starting to see premium increases from some refineries and bulk suppliers for gold and silver bars,” pointing to supply tightness, Gregor Gregersen, founder at Singapore dealer Silver Bullion.
In India, a dip in prices to a near eight-month trough drew buyers in.
This pushed Indian premiums to a six-month peak of up to $6 an ounce over official domestic prices, inclusive of 12.5% import and 3% sales levies.
Many retail buyers who were awaiting a correction were now making purchases, said Mukesh Kothari, director at Mumbai gold dealer RiddiSiddhi Bullions.
The combination of a cut in import duties on gold and silver on Monday, a strong rupee and a retreat in global prices contributed to the dip in Indian rates, a Mumbai-based dealer with a bullion importing bank said.
Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; editing by Arpan Varghese and Emelia Sithole-Matarise