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article imageGold glitters as cash-strapped Thais sell jewellery

By AFP     Apr 15, 2020 in Business

Thais are flocking to Bangkok's Chinatown to sell their gold jewellery as the price of the precious metal spikes and the economy tanks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gold surged to a seven-year high on Tuesday to $1,731.25 an ounce, following global moves led by the US to reinflate economies with trillions of dollars of stimulus measures.

That has boosted the price of gold across the world, tempting many to sell their stocks of the precious metal at a time of economic hardship without recent precedent.

An gold shop employee checks a necklace offered for sale at a shop in Bangkok's Chinatown
An gold shop employee checks a necklace offered for sale at a shop in Bangkok's Chinatown
Mladen ANTONOV, AFP

Many Thais buy gold jewellery as an investment in times of plenty, to be sold when prices rise or belts tighten.

In Bangkok, where a virtual lockdown has taken root for a fortnight, hundreds flocked to Yaowarat, Bangkok's Chinatown, to trade bracelets, necklaces and rings for cash as local gold prices jumped more than 20 percent.

"I don't have any savings so I decided to sell the gold I have for cash to keep me afloat during this time," Thanakorn Promyuyen, a 39-year-old street vendor told AFP.

Customers line up outside a gold shop in Bangkok  ready to sell their jewellery as the price of the ...
Customers line up outside a gold shop in Bangkok, ready to sell their jewellery as the price of the precious metal soars
Mladen ANTONOV, AFP

Traders have bought tens of millions of dollars worth of gold since Tuesday, according to Jitti Tangsitpakdi, a chairman of a trade association.

"One shop bought 200 million baht ($6.1 million) of ornaments and bars," he said, explaining businesses whose revenue has been strangled by the lockdown are being forced to sell their gold savings.

An employee paints the latest price of gold on a shop window in the Thai capital
An employee paints the latest price of gold on a shop window in the Thai capital
Mladen ANTONOV, AFP

"Their businesses are in bad shape; better to sell gold and keep cash," he added.

"In over 60 years and I never seen people queue like this to sell their gold."

Thailand's economy is forecast to contract by more than five percent this year after the virus shuttered borders -- killing the cash cow tourist industry -- leaving millions unemployed.

"I don't have any income, only expenses," said 43-year-old Aumporn Pansa as he sold his jewellery.

"I have kids to take care of as well as monthly bills, so I had to come here and sell.”

burs-apj/fox

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