* India buyers postpone purchases for wedding season
* Premiums in China nearly unchanged at $17/oz
By Rajendra Jadhav and Sethuraman N R
MUMBAI/BENGALURU, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Physical gold sales
eased in Asia this week as steadily higher prices kept buyers on
the sidelines and premiums remained mostly unchanged across the
In India, the world's second-largest consumer of the metal,
higher prices prompted retail buyers to postpone purchases for
"The volatility in prices is confusing buyers. Many buyers
are waiting for prices to stabilise," said Harmesh Arora, a
Mumbai-based bullion dealer.
In local market gold prices were trading around
28,365 rupees per 10 grams on Friday, after falling to 26,862
rupees last month, the lowest level since Feb. 2 last year.
Dealers in India were charging a premium of up to $1 an
ounce this week over official domestic prices, unchanged from
the previous week. The domestic price includes a 10 percent
"Jewellers are not making big purchases as they are
expecting (an) import duty cut in the budget," said a
Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank.
The bullion industry has been urging a reduction in the duty
to combat smuggling, which has increased since India raised
import duty to 10 percent in August 2013 in an effort to narrow
a gaping current account deficit. The Indian government will
present its budget on Feb. 1 for the 2017/18 financial year
starting Apr. 1.
Gold imports in December fell 71 percent from a year ago to
31 tonnes as a cash crunch squeezed demand, said Sudheesh
Nambiath, a senior analyst at GFMS, a division of Thomson
In China, the world's top gold consumer, gold was sold at a
premium of around $17 to the global benchmark, almost
unchanged from last week.
"The demand is not too hot as prices touched $1,200 this
week and people are just in the wait-and-watch mode," said
Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong
"There is a bit of slowdown in sales in China. It tapers
down further in the week to Chinese New Year," Leung added.
Gold fell on Friday after hitting a seven-week peak in the
previous session as the dollar edged up and a technical
correction set in, but it was still set to end higher for a
third straight week.
Among other gold trading centres, bullion was sold at a
premium of $1-$1.50 an ounce in Hong Kong and Singapore, nearly
unchanged from last week.
Prices in Tokyo, however, were at a discount of $1 per ounce
"Higher gold prices in Japan are leading people to sell gold
rather than buy," a Tokyo-based retailer said.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI and Nallur Sethuraman
in BENGALURU; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)