By Rajendra Jadhav and Ashitha Shivaprasad(Reuters) – Physical gold buyers in some Asian hubs were drawn to a dip in domestic prices this week, while central bank demand kept premiums firm in China.Local gold prices in India hit as low as 56,496 rupees per 10 grams from an all-time high of 58,826 rupees climbed last week.Demand from jewelers and retail consumers has improved because of the price correction, said Ashok Jain, proprietor of Mumbai-based gold wholesaler Chenaji Narsinghji.Dealers offered discounts of up to $18 an ounce over official domestic prices — inclusive of 15% import and 3% sales levies — down from last week’s $48 discount.”After two months, there’s some momentum in the market. Many buyers who postponed purchases hoping for a reduction in the import duty will start purchases if prices fall further,” a Mumbai-based dealer with a private bank said.India did not slash the import duty on gold in its annual budget presented on Feb. 1, despite demands from the bullion industry, but instead raised the duty on silver.Dealers in top consumer China raised premiums to $12-$15 an ounce over global benchmark spot prices, from $10-$15 last week.”Demand from retail is starting to slow. However, China will continue adding gold into the basket of reserves, perhaps to defend the RMB,” said Bernard Sin, regional director, Greater China at MKS PAMP.The value of China’s gold reserves rose to $125.28 billion at end-January, from $117.24 billion at end-December.Central banks added a record 1,136 tonnes of gold to stockpiles in 2022.In Hong Kong, bullion was sold at par to $2 premiums, while Singapore dealers charged $1-$2 premiums.Since gold prices fell, we could see interest in buying, yet concerns about higher interest rates has curbed appetite, said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals.(Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar, Kavya Guduru, Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru and Rajendra Jhadav in Mumbai; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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