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China now world's 2nd largest gold jewellery consumer
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China surpassed the United States to become the world's second largest market for gold jewellery, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the World Gold Council (WGC).

The latest WGC statistics showed that sales of gold jewellery reached a record high of 302.2 tons, up by 34 percent and second only to India.

"2007 was a year of great momentum for the world gold market where China had played a significant role," said Philip Olden, WGC chief marketing officer.

In 2007, the demand for gold in the United Stated saw a 14 percent year-on-year drop and gold market in Italy and Britain also slumped.

In the last quarter of 2007, China saw a 20 percent year-on-year growth in gold jewellery sales.

WGC officials also said that China's consumers now had various choices of the jewellery articles as the country's gold market remained prosperous.

In January, China's gold futures made a strong debut on the Shanghai Futures Exchange as international gold prices had repeatedly hit new highs.

Global gold prices jumped more than 30 percent last year, the biggest increase since 1979.

WGC, based in London, is a marketing organization promoting gold trading around the world.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2008)

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