ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A fall in world gold prices in September helped Turkey’s gold imports to surge by 46.7 percent year-on-year to 26.6 tons. Imports in September, which marked the second-highest monthly level in 2006, showed a rise of 20.7 percent from 22 tons in August, according to data from the gold bourse. Dealers said the rise in September gold imports from a month earlier was sparked by a fall in international gold prices. «The fall in international gold prices increased the demand for bullion in the Grand Bazaar and, therefore, the price in the Bazaar soared, compared to world prices, which led investors to bet more for gold,» said Gokhan Aksu, a dealer at Goldas, Turkey’s leading jewelry exporter. World gold prices, which hit a 26-year peak in mid-May at $730 an ounce, recently fell below $600. Yesterday gold traded at around $601.30. Aksu said the lira’s strengthening against the dollar had made bullion cheaper for Turkish investors and helped increase demand from banks and manufacturers. After losing some 25 percent of its value against the dollar in May and June, the lira has pared losses and rose to 1.4500 to dollar during September. Yesterday it stood at around 1.5110 on the interbank market, as political worries weighed. Imports in the first nine months of 2006 fell by 33.3 percent year-on-year to 154.3 tons, the bourse said. Gold imports by Turkey, one of the world’s top gold consumers, reached a record 270 tons last year. Jewelers and dealers say imports will be significantly below that level this year.