China 2009 Gold Demand, Output May Hit Records

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"China is likely to become the number-one supplier and consumer of gold this year."

China, the world's largest gold producer, may break records for both demand and output this year as jewelry consumption soars and miners expand production after prices reached all-time highs, the China Gold Association said.

Gold demand may be more than 450 metric tons compared with 395.6 tons in 2008, and output may climb to 310 tons, compared with 282 tons a year earlier, Zhang Yongtao, deputy secretary-general of the association, said at a conference in Kunming yesterday. China's gold production increased by an average 9.5% in the past eight years, he said.

China overtook South Africa to become the world's largest producer in 2007 and the World Gold Council said in July that the nation may pass India as the biggest consumer. Bullion touched a record of $1,195.13 an ounce Nov. 26 as a weaker dollar drove demand for precious metals as an alternative asset.

"China is likely to become the number-one supplier and consumer of gold this year," said Rozanna Wozniak, investment research manager at the World Gold Council. Global jewelry demand remained weak in the third quarter, with China being the exception, according to slides provided by the council.

Bullion, up 33% this year, is set for a ninth annual gain as central banks, pension funds and individual buyers seek to protect their assets from potential currency debasement and inflation. Gold may climb to $1,500 an ounce as the dollar falls amid low interest rates, Kenneth Tropin, chairman of Graham Capital Management, told Barron's in its Nov. 30 issue.

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