China officially overtook India as the world's largest consumer of gold in 2013, according to the World Gold Council (WGC), in a year that saw overall demand for bullion slump 15 percent owing to heavy exchange traded fund (ETF) selling.
Chinese consumer demand – which includes jewelry, bars and coins – rose 32 percent on year to a record 1,066 tonnes in 2013. Indian consumers, by comparison, bought 975 tonnes – a 13 percent rise from the previous year, the latest WGC Gold Demand Trends report published on Tuesday showed. Globally, consumer demand climbed 21 percent on year, totaling 3,864 tonnes.
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"Demand for gold in China set a remarkable new record…The impact on the Chinese gold industry of the extraordinary growth in 2013 demand has been marked, with significant growth in both manufacturing and retail network capacity," the WGC, an industry body representing gold miners, wrote.
While data from recent quarters has shown China extending its lead as the top gold consumer, data for the full year confirms this.