Precious: De Beers said to have August sales of $505m. Picture: REUTERS
Precious: De Beers said to have August sales of $505m. Picture: REUTERS

Rough-diamond demand slowed in September, with the manufacturing sector squeezed between steady rough diamond prices and lower prices for polished diamonds, according to Rapaport Monthly Report.

"Rough [diamond] trading slowed in the third quarter, following a bullish first half. Sentiment in the manufacturing sector was relatively weak, as profit margins have been squeezed between lower polished prices and relatively firm rough prices at De Beers and Alrosa sales," the report said.

Demand for rough diamonds from India, the largest cutting and polishing centre for diamonds, particularly small stones, had reduced in September ahead of the Diwali holiday period in October as factories prepared to slow production.

Indian diamond factories had enough stock after De Beers and Russian producer Alrosa sold $762m worth of rough diamonds in August. The factories also bought rough diamonds at auctions by other companies in September at lower prices.

Rapaport said De Beers sold $505m worth of diamonds in August, a figure not released or confirmed by De Beers. This was a 21% decline on the same period a year earlier because of Indian buying moving forward into July ahead of Diwali.

Indian imports of rough diamonds fell 7% year on year in August, while Belgian imports were down 1%. Exports of rough diamonds out of Belgium, a hub of diamond trading, were 9% lower in August compared with a year earlier.

"Of greater concern for the miners would be a prolonged slowdown in the rough market, which is expected to remain relatively quiet in October and November due to the Diwali break," Rapaport said.

The combined output of the top five diamond miners was expected to rise 8% in 2017, it said.

Weak market conditions and concerns of excess polished supply should make the miners cautious, as rough demand was expected to improve only at the beginning of 2018, it said.

seccombea@bdfm.co.za

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