Gold buying up in India as Hindu festival starts

Gold buying soared in India as the Akshaya Tritiya festival began. This festival is considered a lucky time for Hindus to buy the precious metal. Business in India has been subdued lately due to a jeweler's strike protesting against the doubling of gold import duties and imposition of an excise duty on unbranded jewelry.

Tuesday, April 24th 2012, 05:01 PM
NY Daily News

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 jewelers' 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 skeptical about business this year after a recent nationwide strike by jewelers, protesting against the doubling of gold import duties and the imposition of an excise duty on unbranded jewelry.

"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 jewelry, Rajesh Exports, was also upbeat about demand.

"We are seeing people queuing up since shops opened at 6:00 am," he told AFP.

The three-week jewelers' 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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