Gold importers hope for clearance of remaining shipments stuck at airports

Reuters

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian gold importers expect the customs department to clear remaining shipments stuck at airports later in the week, while some banks have already restarted imports, easing supply pressures and prices in the domestic market.

Gold shipments into India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, came to a virtual halt after the Reserve Bank of India told importers on July 22 that a fifth of their purchases would have to be turned around for export and 80 percent would be available for domestic use.

The new rule created confusion among government officials, prompting the commerce ministry to hold a high-level meeting to sort out the confusion and clear all shipments lying at airports.

"Finally, our shipments are under clearance after two months. We should come to know about its fate by tomorrow evening...," said a dealer with a private bank in Mumbai, adding "we have orders in the pipeline and will start processing them".

Exporters are scrambling for stocks ahead of the peak Christmas season in the United States, though premiums in the spot market eased to $5-$7 an ounce as against $40 seen earlier in the month.

"We have heard that customs has cleared lots in Kolkata, Hyderabad and other centres. We hope customs in Mumbai will start processing lots this week," said another dealer with a private bullion-importing bank.

Among the lots stuck at the Mumbai airport is 425 kg of gold imported by Bank of Nova Scotia and 100 kg shipped by the State Bank of India. Both are awaiting clearance from the customs department.

MMTC's 100 kg lot was cleared on September 27, said an official from the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council on condition of anonymity as she was not authorised to speak to media.

In the domestic market, gold prices eased from their highest level in two weeks as traders took profits, though a weaker rupee limited the downside.

The actively traded gold for October delivery on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) was 0.11 percent lower at 30,692 rupees per 10 grams. Silver for December delivery on the MCX was 0.45 percent higher at 49,455 rupees per kg.

Spot gold prices at HDFC Bank rose to 30,490 rupees per 10 grams, up from the previous day's 29,388 rupees. (Reporting by Siddesh Mayenkar; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)

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