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India’s gold demand may not soar until November on fewer weddings

Gold demand may not pick up until November in India, one of the world's largest consumers. Blame the Hindu calendar.

May is usually the wedding season in India as auspicious wedding dates tend to fall in the month.

Typically, this drives gold imports up and the India rupee down, wrote ANZ' s FX strategists, Khoon Goh and Rini Sen in a note on Friday.

Indian gold import volumes by month (% of calendar year total)
Indian gold import volumes by month (% of calendar year total)

This year however, there is a lack of auspicious wedding days, also known as Vivah Shubh Muhurat, in May.

"In fact, there are no such dates from May to October, which point to some pent-up demand in November and December," the analysts note.

India's gold imports in March slumped 80.5 percent from a year ago to $973 million, Reuters reported in April, citing government data.

Due to the pickup in gold demand that usually happens in May, the Indian rupee is also typically one of the weakest performing currencies in the month, depreciating with "consistent regularity" from 2000 to 2015, note the analysts.

That's because gold prices are denominated in dollars so gold buyers need to sell the Indian currency for the greenback.

The Indian rupee is historically the weakest currency in May (2000-2015).
The Indian rupee is historically the weakest currency in May (2000-2015).

Still, the unusual absence of auspicious wedding dates in May this year may not be sufficient to prevent rupee weakness.

"The rupee's close correlation with the equity market means it is vulnerable to signs of domestic slowdown and any reassessment of U.S. Fed rate hikes," the analysts wrote.

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