Chinese investors' demand for gold has declined in the second quarter of 2019 due to the rising confidence of investors in the renminbi's exchange rate and the steady performance of the domestic stock market, experts said.
The World Gold Council said continued purchases by central banks in the world during the second quarter of 2019 meant global demand for the yellow metal rose by 1,123 metric tons, a rise of 8 percent year-on-year.
For investors, the demand for gold in China has seen some softening. Part of the reason behind this trend is that investors have become less worried about foreign exchange rates while the price of gold has increased significantly, especially in June. The demand for gold bars and coins has also declined by 29 percent year-on-year.
"In the past months, the exchange rate of the renminbi has become stable, and the domestic stock market was also healthy, which led many investors to turn to investments with higher returns," said Wang Lixin, managing director of the World Gold Council in China.
"The rapid increase in the price of gold also contributed to the declining demand in China."
Gold is a traditional safe-haven metal for investors, especially during times of turbulence in stock and financial markets.
Bao Jigang, chairman of Wukong Investment, a Shenzhen-based private equity firm, said gold is still the first choice for those trying to hedge their risks.
"Since the end of 2018, our company has used gold investments to hedge its risks to counter the complicated international environment in order to balance its investment structure," he said.
Separately, China has also increased its gold reserves by 74 metric tons in the first six months of the year, the council said.
"The notable increase in Chinese gold reserves made the biggest contribution to Chinese gold demand in the second quarter of 2019," said Wang.
"The volume of monthly net purchases increased marginally in the second quarter. The diversification of foreign exchange reserves and the demand for safe and liquid assets have become the main driving force for central banks to buy gold."
On the consumption side, the demand for gold jewelry in the second quarter of 2019 fell by nearly 4 percent year-on-year to 137.8 metric tons, the third consecutive quarter it has dropped.
Despite a slow season in the second quarter and rising gold prices in June, the council took note that the demand for jewelry was relatively upbeat in April and May.
"Overall, consumers continue to shift their attention toward the more innovative and ... premium ranges that have been developed by the industry in recent years," Wang said. However, "if gold prices continue to rise rapidly in the short term, it may curb gold consumption and investment demand".
He added that as the shopping habits of the 90s generation changed, the retail gold jewelry industry has been facing challenges in attracting consumers.
"Many jewelry makers are working on making their jewelry lighter, which enables them to make bigger pieces of jewelry with less amount of gold," he said. "But nowadays the younger generation don't even go to brick-and-mortar shops anymore; they can't reach the consumers."