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Market Comments 3/8/2012

Mar 8, 2012 6:00 PM  
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Global financial and commodity prices soften as European crisis persists and China, Brazil and India lower growth forecasts. Diamond markets stable with good U.S. demand but buyers remain cautious. Mixed expectations for large stone demand at Basel show. The RapNet Diamond Index (RAPI) for 1 ct. polished diamonds fell 1.8% to 94.18 in Feb. ALROSA's diamond sales +21% to $694M in Jan-Feb. Rio Tinto cuts number of Select Diamantaire clients to 13. Belgium's Feb. polished exports +4% to $1.4B, rough imports +2% to $1.1B. Botswana’s Jan. diamond exports -69% to $109M. Marange Resources appoints former Zimbabwe defense chief Tshinga Dube as chairperson.

Global Markets

United States:
The wholesale market is relatively quiet with trading in New York fairly uncertain. Dealers remain cautious about prices despite the recent stability following the Hong Kong show and wholesalers are avoiding large volume purchases to build inventory. There is good demand for SI clarity goods and improving demand for fancy shape stones, particularly   cushion, princess and radiant cuts. The retail market continues to be driven by bridal demand. While there is overall caution about prospects for the year, there are mixed expectations for the coming spring and summer months.

Belgium: Polished trading picked up this week as dealers gained confidence from the Hong Kong show and as Indian demand improved. Demand remains good but caution lingers due to economic uncertainties. There is good demand for SI clarity stones and steady activity in clean stars, and 0.50-carat to 1.00-carat, VS-SI diamonds. Rough trading has improved slightly but cutting margins remain tight as rough prices held relatively steady at the February sight cycle.
Israel: The mood in the Israel Diamond Exchange improved this week as dealers returned from Hong Kong satisfied and as authorities agreed to suspend the tax inquiries being conducted in the bourse. As a result, polished trading has been steady with good demand for small sizes up to 1.50-carat, VS-SI stones. Demand for goods larger than 3 carats remains relatively weak. Rough trading is stable but cautious. 

India: Polished trading improved slightly as demand and market sentiment improved following better-than-expected trading at the Hong Kong show. Local buyers were also encouraged by the recent stability in the rupee exchange rate. There is good demand for small size and 1-carat goods, mainly in VS-SI clarities due to some reported shortages in these categories. Some foreign buyers are in the market, with selective buying from the U.S. and Far East. However, buyers are still cautious and are pushing for deeper discounts. Rough trading remains weak as buyers are cautious due to wide price differentials. There is steady demand for rough to cut into fancy shape goods. Manufacturing levels are still below capacity but production is expected to increase if the market remains stable. There is sufficient supply of rough goods.

China: Wholesale trading is stable with dealers focused on follow-up negotiations after the Hong Kong show. There has not been a major boost in activity since the show as prices have remained firm while buyers continue to avoid large inventory purchases. Their buying is focused on traditional ranges suitable for the Chinese market, mainly rounds, 0.50-carat to 1.10-carat, G-, VS-SI stones with a steady shift toward SI clarity goods. The retail market is also stable.   

Hong Kong: There has been an increase in inquiries for polished goods since the show ended last week with some reports of shortages in the market, particularly SI clarity stones. Local dealers left the show with greater confidence in the market than they had before. There is good demand for lower color J-M goods. Overall, wholesale diamond prices are stable. Similarly, there is steady activity in the retail market. 
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