Asia's Silver Appetite to Extend Bull Run


"Industrial and investment demand strong, consumer demand increasing."

Rising demand in Asia could help drive silver to new highs as top consumers China and India buy more to meet industrial, retail and investment needs.

"Demand for silver is probably driven more by Asia than anywhere else in the world," said Robin Bhar, analyst at Credit Agricole. "Industrial demand is quite solid, investment demand is pretty strong as well."

Chinese imports, including powder, unwrought and semi-manufactured silver, have risen as demand has grown from electronic and manufacturing industries. Just three years after becoming a net importer, China imported 3,280 tons in the first 11 months of 2010 - over 10% of global supply.

Global silver supply is estimated at around 30,000 tons for this year, according to CRU Group.

"There's a lot more growth potential in China than there has been to date," said Giles Lloyd, a metals analyst at CRU in London.

Over the past ten years, China's silver demand has doubled, Lloyd said. But such fast growth is overshadowed by a 3.5-fold growth in consumption of zinc, he added.

About 70% of China's silver consumption is in industrial applications, mainly electronics. Rapid growth in the industry has accelerated with the global economic recovery from the financial crisis.

The photovoltaic industry, another silver consumer, has also seen fast growth. It was the only industry worldwide that saw increased demand for silver in 2009,.

It is not just industry and investors that see sparkle in silver. Consumers in India, the world's biggest retail gold market, are developing a taste for the metal too.

"Silver is now being taken seriously, most of the gold jewelers are setting up separate counters to sell silver," said Babu Alapatt, president of All Kerala Gold and Silver Merchants Association.

"A lot of capacity has been built by manufacturers due to renewed interest."

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