LONDON (Reuters) – Swiss exports of gold to the United States leapt to 111.7 tonnes in April — by far the biggest monthly total on record — while shipments to other destinations dwindled, customs data showed on Tuesday.

The global gold market has been turned on its head by the novel coronavirus, with demand in China and India collapsing due to lockdowns while in the West investors rushed to buy bullion as a safe asset to weather a period of financial turmoil.

High prices on CME Group’s Comex exchange spurred shipments to New York.

Switzerland, a major trading, vaulting and refining centre for precious metals, exported a total of 131.8 tonnes of gold in April, up from 96.2 tonnes in March but slightly lower than in April 2019.

The United States, which typically imports less than a tonne of gold a month from Switzerland, accounted for 85% of that total.

Switzerland meanwhile shipped 500 kgs (0.5 tonnes) of gold to India, 1 kg to Hong Kong and no gold at all to China in April. Each of these destinations usually receive tens of tonnes of metal from Switzerland each month.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)