by Phoebe Sedgman, Bloomberg
LONDON, 27 February 2015 (TSR- Bloomberg) – Kazakhstan increased gold reserves for the 28th straight month, while Ukraine added to holdings for the first time since August, the International Monetary Fund said. Russia trimmed assets for the first time since March.
Kazakhstan boosted holdings to about 193.5 metric tons in January from 191.8 tons a month earlier as Ukraine’s rose to 23.9 tons from 23.6 tons, according to data on the IMF website. Russia lowered reserves to about 1,207.7 tons from 1,208.2 tons, ending nine months of purchases, they showed.
Central banks have raised gold reserves for the past five years, a reversal from two decades of selling since the late 1980s. Governments added 477.2 tons in 2014, the second-biggest increase in 50 years, and purchases will be at least 400 tons this year, the London-based World Gold Council says. Bullion had its biggest monthly advance in three years in January.
“There’s been a small but nonetheless increasing trend that central banks want to hold gold,” said Wayne Gordon, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Singapore. Bullion buying by central banks is “a risk aversion strategy,” he said by phone.
Gold climbed 8.4 percent in January in London as policy makers in Europe and Asia signaled more stimulus to battle slowing economic growth and investors speculated that Greece may be forced to quit the euro. Bullion traded at $1,195.80 an ounce on Tuesday, still 38 percent below a record set in 2011.
Kazakhstan’s hoard rose 33 percent in the past 12 months and more than doubled in the past three years, the data show. Ukraine’s assets dropped in November to the lowest level since 2005 as its foreign currency reserves contracted and the hryvnia slumped amid conflict in the eastern region.
Russia, the world’s fifth-biggest gold holder, had been adding to its holdings as international sanctions over Ukraine and plunging oil prices led to a collapse in the ruble. Before last month, Russia had bought at least 18 tons a month since September and more than tripled its holdings since 2005.
Turkey cuts its gold reserves last month along with Mexico and Belarus, the data showed.