Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

New Indian gold rush is to sell

By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Gold trading in Allahabad. File pic
Indians regard gold as an auspicious metal

India, the world's largest consumer of gold, is witnessing a popular rush to sell to take advantage of the high global price.

Traditionally Indians have invested more in gold than stocks and properties, but experts say the trend is now reversing.

The country imports 20% of the world's gold but owners have been flocking to traders to sell for cash.

As a result imports of gold have plummeted in the past three months.

Status symbol

It is wedding season in India, when the consumption of gold is usually at its peak.

But the gold rush this year is to sell not to buy.

According to an estimate by Bombay Bullion Association President Suresh Hundia, more than a kilogram of gold was sold in Mumbai's unorganised gold market on Tuesday.

The sellers are pocketing more than $30 a gram for gold - a handsome amount in these times of recession.

Indians love gold and the yellow metal is associated with auspicious occasions, such as weddings and childbirth.

It is also a status symbol in rural India, where people measure wealth in terms of the gold an individual owns.

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