Emerging nations up gold reserves

by Rhiannon Hoyle, Dow Jones Newswires
The Australian
Sep. 30, 2011

EMERGING market countries are continuing to top up their gold reserves, with Russia, Thailand and Bolivia among those to add to their holdings in August as developing economies continue to diversify away from traditional reserve currencies.

Recently, emerging market central banks have bought gold in reaction to the sovereign debt crises affecting the US dollar and the euro, analysts say. Demand has also risen strongly in recent quarters as some seek to diversify foreign exchange reserves that have grown along with emerging market export industries.

The central bank of Russia, a regular buyer from its own domestic market, continued its long-term program of gold accumulation in August by adding 118,000 troy ounces to its reserves, which now stand at 27.161 million ounces, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund.

Russia's holdings are up more than 7 per cent on the start of 2011.

However, Russia wasn't the only country to acquire gold last month as the price on the spot market soared to record highs before touching $US1920.94 a troy ounce on September 6. There is no indication any central bank buys gold on the spot market.

Thailand continued to boost its reserves, lifting them 300,000 ounces to 4.4 million ounces -- a significant step up from its January holdings of 3.2 million ounces.

The Bolivian central bank lifted reserves by 225,000 ounces to 1.361 million ounces. Tajikistan and Greece also reported minor additions to their bullion holdings, the IMF data show.

Net central bank gold purchases are expected to total at least 336 metric tonnes this year, equal to around $US20 billion based on recent prices, metals consultancy GFMS said earlier this month.

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