Gold buying up in India as Hindu festival starts

An Indian sales person arranges bangles made of gold and other precious metals on the eve of the Hindu festival, Akshaya Tritiya, in Ahmedabad on April 23. Indian gold retailers reported brisk trade amid the holiday, after weeks of subdued business due to a jewellers' strike and weak global sentiment. © AFP Sam Panthaky

MUMBAI  – Indian gold retailers Tuesday reported brisk trade as an auspicious two-day Hindu festival got under way, after weeks of subdued business due to a jewellers’ strike and weak global sentiment.

The Akshaya Tritiya festival is considered a lucky time for Hindus to purchase the yellow metal and is subsequently a crucial sales period in India.

But traders had been sceptical about business this year after a recent nationwide strike by jewellers, protesting against the doubling of gold import duties and the imposition of an excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

“Our initial feedback indicates better consumer uptake than what we anticipated earlier,” said Ajay Mitra, director of the World Gold Council for India.

Rajesh Mehta, chairman of India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of gold jewellery, Rajesh Exports, was also upbeat about demand.

“We are seeing people queueing up since shops opened at 6:00 am,” he told AFP.

The three-week jewellers’ strike ended earlier this month after the government promised to consider their demands.

Its move to increase import duties in last month’s budget was a bid to reduce gold imports by the world’s biggest bullion consumer and lower India’s current account deficit.

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