Monday, November 29, 1999

Sharp fall in India gold festival sales as prices bite

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India's gold traders and retailers said late Sunday they saw large falls in Akshaya Tritiya festival sales, in an indication demand may remain subdued through the rest of the year if global prices continue to stay firm.The festival, which is more popular in south India, is the second-largest gold buying day in the world's largest market for gold."Sales are down compared to last year as prices have jumped in the last 10 days," said Lokesh Kumar Agarwal, chairman of Brijwasi Bullion, a large trader in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state in the north."People who bought 10 grammes last year, bought only two grammes this time," said Agarwal.Prices have hardened tracking the international markets, where weakening currencies and fears of a European bailout package have spurred investor buying.On the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX), front month gold hit a new record high on Monday at 18,416 rupees ($403.6) per 10 grammes, breaking the previous record of 18,339 rupees hit on last Friday.(Additional reporting by Ruchira Singh in NEW DELHI; editing by Malini Menon)
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