Physical gold premiums eased slightly in top consumer China this week, but remained elevated on high investor demand amid a broadly weaker yuan and economic worries, while lower prices in India failed to boost retail purchases.
Chinese dealers charged premiums of between $80 and $100 an ounce over global spot prices, compared with $60-$130 last week.
"The fact that people are prepared to pay such a premium over the spot suggests there is a strong willingness to buy gold ... but a lot of that incremental interest is coming from investment demand," said John Reade, market strategist for Europe and Asia at World Gold Council.
China's gold imports via Hong Kong rebounded in August from the previous month, data showed on Tuesday, with the issuance of fresh quotas to local banks likely to boost shipments.
Bullion is seen as a safer asset for Chinese investors amid a weaker currency, troubled property sector and subdued stock market, Reade said.
Activity is expected to remain muted, with markets closed from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 for public holidays in China.
In Hong Kong, bullion was sold at premiums of $2.25-$3.25 and in Singapore at $1.75-$2.75.
Dealers in India were charging a premium of up to $4 an ounce over official domestic prices, inclusive of the 15% import and 3% sales levies, up from last week's premium of $2.
"There is an improvement in demand from investors, but jewellery demand is not picking up at an expected pace," said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based gold wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.
"Buying from jewellers is still lower than usual, as some of them are delaying purchases anticipating further price declines," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank.
Local gold prices fell to 57,026 rupees per 10 grams this week, the lowest since mid-March.
In Japan, dealers sold gold at par to $0.5 premiums.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Deep Vakil in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Varun H K)