Gold demand hit its highest level ever for a first quarter in 2016, jumping to jumped to 1,289.8 tonnes or 21% more than the same period last year, according to the latest World Gold Council report
The industry body attributed the surge, which also makes the period from Jan to March January and March 2016 the second strongest quarter on record, to economic uncertainty.
Investors, says the report, sought out exchange traded funds backed by the metal amid volatility in equity markets, concerns about China and negative central bank interest rates.
Gold prices are up more than 20% year to date and rose nearly 16% in the first quarter alone. It was the strongest price performance in nearly three decades.
The rally has been almost entirely driven by investors in physical gold-backed exchange traded funds and large-scale futures speculators like hedge funds.
In contrast, all other demand categories fell sharply. Central bank’s slowed considerably in the first quarter, falling 3% annually and 31% from the fourth quarter.
Physical gold demand in the two largest consumer markets of India and China remains weak, shows the study, adding that jewellery demand dropped 19% in the period.
Overall, the council anticipates that gold demand will remain healthy this year, fuelled by ongoing market uncertainty, unconventional monetary policies and an expected recovery in India.