Global gold demand rose in the first quarter as a surge in investment as the coronavirus outbreak convulsed global markets offset sharp falls in appetite from jewellers, industry and central banks, an industry report said on Thursday.
Coronavirus lockdowns have closed swathes of the global economy but triggered a wave of interest in gold from investors who see it as a safe place to park money.
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) storing bullion for investors expanded their stockpile by 299.6 tonnes to record highs over January-March, said the report by consultants Refinitiv GFMS.
That offset a 40% year-on-year fall in consumption of gold by jewellers to 308.6 tonnes, a 19% decline in use by industry to 75.3 tonnes and an 11% dip in purchases by central banks to 129.3 tonnes, the report said.
Retail investment -- purchases of bars and coins by individuals -- also fell 11% compared to the first quarter of 2019, to 239.7 tonnes.
Total global gold demand was 1,069.6 tonnes, up 2% from January-March 2019, Refinitiv GFMS said.
It said it expected gold prices - currently at eight-year highs around $1,700 an ounce -- to average $1,637 an ounce in 2020 and possibly move above $1,800 later in the year.
(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)