The Vietnamese Central Bank sold another 25,700 taels (37.5 grams, 1.2 troy ounces) at a gold bar auction on Friday in order to try and satiate the massive public demand for gold in Vietnam.
The Central Bank hopes that the sale of gold into the market will reduce the very high premiums paid by gold buyers in Vietnam, the largest buyer of gold in Southeast Asia after Thailand and one of the largest physical buyers of gold per capita in the world.
Vietnamese people hold gold as a store of wealth for protection against war, inflation and currency depreciation. In recent months, the bursting of bubbles in the stock market (see chart) and property market and the continuing devaluation of the dong has led to record demand in Vietnam and a surging premium over the spot price of gold.
Today, the premium was close to 5.5 million dong which is the equivalent of a very high premium of $217 per ounce over spot.
The premium reached an all-time high of more than $210 per ounce or 6 million dong in April, when gold prices were hammered by what appeared to be manipulative selling on the COMEX futures market.
The Vietnamese Central Bank has held sales since the end of March to help banks return deposits by June 30. So far 709,800 taels, or about 27 tons, have been sold in 28 auctions through June 7, according to the bank.
It is hoped that the gap between domestic and global prices for immediate delivery will probably drop to 4 million dong a tael ($158 an ounce) by the end of July, according to Nguyen Thanh Truc, vice chairman of the Vietnam Gold Traders Association.