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November 14, 2009

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Demand for Tiger year gold bars seen strong

CONSUMERS can buy the "Year of the Tiger" investment-grade gold bars when they hit the counters in December and record high prices may not deter them.

China Gold Coin Co, the nationwide wholesaler of the bullion, yesterday started selling the gold bars, ranging from 50 grams to 1,000 grams, to dealers in Shanghai. The dealers will then sell the bullion to retail investors in December. Some dealers have also started pre-selling, or booking, of the bars yesterday.

China Gold Coin offers 3.98 tons of the bullion this year nationwide, an increase of 900 kilograms, or 23 percent, from a year ago.

"We're not worried about selling even at the recent high prices," said a company manager. "We raised our supply despite the high prices."

Gold prices hit a record high of US$1,119 an ounce this week in New York, on inflationary expectations and a relatively weak US dollar.

At the retail level in Shanghai, the "Year of the Tiger" bars will be priced around 282 yuan (US$41.30) a gram, or US$1,285 an ounce, a rise of 16 percent from the price of the "Year of the Ox" bars a year ago. Next year is the year of the tiger according to Chinese lunar calendar.

Banks and jewelers are also selling gold bullion to tap the traditional frenzy among Chinese for gold which is seen as a fortune symbol. Investment in gold bars and coins jumped 47 percent on the Chinese mainland to 17.1 tons in the second quarter, said the World Gold Council.

But not all are bullish on gold.

Glenn Maguire, Societe Generale's Asia chief economist, sees platinum and palladium as good investment options, backed by China's strong auto sales. Platinum is a key item in auto-making.


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