(Adds analyst quote in the fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest bank by market value, has joined the London Bullion Market Association as a full member, as the country’s imports of the precious metal gained to a record.
The Beijing-based bank will use the opportunity to forge itself into a global precious metal investment and management bank, according to an e-mailed statement from the lender. The LBMA is the London-based trade association that represents the wholesale over-the-counter market for gold and silver in London. China is the world’s largest gold producer.
China’s bullion demand may be more than 750 tons this year, as the country overtook India in the third quarter as the world’s largest gold jewelry market, Albert Cheng, managing director for the World Gold Council’s Far East region at the Council, said on Nov. 17. Gold imports from Hong Kong surged 51 percent to a record in October as investors sought to hedge against turmoil in the financial markets.
“ICBC’s becoming a member of LBMA will help the two markets -- China and overseas -- become more related in the long term,” Jin Shuguang, analyst at Nanhua Futures Co., said by phone from Hangzhou today.
By selling more than 40 tons of gold in the first 10 months, ICBC became the largest retailer in China by volume, Cheng Binghai, chairman of the Shanghai Gold & Jewelry Trade Association, said in Shanghai on Dec. 1.
Gold is rallying for an 11th year, gaining 12 percent, as investors seek to protect their wealth from declining equities, depreciating currencies and the threat of inflation. Bullion for immediate-delivery in London climbed for the first time in five days to $1,590.15 an ounce, down 17 percent from the record $1,921.15 on Sept. 6.
--Feiwen Rong. Editors: Richard Dobson, Thomas Kutty Abraham
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