Jewelers across Sindh will reopen today (Friday), the All Sindh Saraf and Jewelers Association said in a statement on Thursday.
Bullion markets across the province closed three months ago after the Sindh government shut the province for all kinds of trading activity to contain the spread of the coronavirus. A few essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, bakeries, food delivery businesses and export-oriented factories, were exempt from the lockdown with certain restrictions but gold traders were not among them.
For now, the markets will open till Sunday from 9am to 5pm, the ASSJA said. As per the latest rates, a tola of gold is now selling for Rs96,400.
Though jewellery shops remained closed during the lockdown, international gold prices shot up, reaching Pakistan’s highest-ever level on April 14 when a tola sold for Rs100,400. Local prices increased after gold futures started trading above $1,720 per ounce in the international market, their highest level in seven-and-a-half years.
Gold futures have been on the rise recently, increasing by more than $200 per ounce since the last week of March when they were trading at under $1,500.
Gold is correlated with the dollar and other commodities, but the dollar had weakened and alternates such as oil also became cheaper because of a global demand suppression caused by the COVID-19 contagion. This is why investors started parking their money into gold, which is considered safe in uncertain times. The market is weighing in the previous peak when gold hit $1,900 per ounce in 2011.
The surge in local prices came despite a nationwide lockdown, which resulted in suspension of trade. No weddings are taking place and no one is buying gold, said Haroon Chand of the ASSJA. The ASSJA had announced that they would be keeping their shops closed until the lockdown is over, primarily because they deal in gold and need safety. The police are currently busy enforcing the government’s COVID-19 policies, he said.
However, in a message on Thursday evening, Chand said he has spoken to government officials and decided markets will open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. “For Monday onward, we will wait for the government notification,” the ASSJA chief said.