Gold premiums in top consumer China climbed this week, helped by strong demand for the bullion, while prices in India traded at a discount for the first time in four weeks due to an uptick in domestic rates.
Premiums of $26-$40 an ounce were charged in China this week, over the international benchmark, up from $20-$25 last week.
"SGE (Shanghai Gold Exchange) gold traded as high as $40 premium with uncertainty pertaining to import quota allocation," said Bernard Sin, regional director for Greater China at MKS PAMP.
"We expect nervous buying trend to continue prior to Golden Week holidays," he added.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) controls how much gold enters the country via quotas to commercial banks and has recently been taking measures to slow the yuan's depreciation.
People are worried about inflation and about the value of the currency (yuan) decreasing, so people are buying gold as safe haven, said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals.
Gold was sold between $0.5 and $4 premiums in Hong Kong, compared with last week's $0.5-$2 premiums.
"Premiums are higher in Hong Kong as there is increased demand but shortage of supply," said Joshua Rotbart, managing partner at J. Rotbart & Co in Hong Kong.
Dealers in India were offering a discount of up to $2.5 an ounce over official domestic prices — inclusive of the 15% import and 3% sales levies, down from the last week's premium of $3.
"Buyers are very price-sensitive. They are postponing purchases due to the price increase," said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based gold wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.
Local gold prices rose to 50,175 rupees per 10 grams this week, after falling to 48,951 rupees last week, the lowest since Feb. 11.
In Singapore, premiums of $1.80-$3 an ounce were charged vs $1.80-$2.30 last week. In Japan, gold changed hands at $1 discounts to $0.50 premiums this week.
(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru, and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; editing by Uttaresh.V)