Russia gold reserves up 18.8 tns as rouble woes continue

Jan 09, 2015 12:00 AM

Russia’s central bank has increased its gold holdings by 18.8 tonnes over the past month, according to the latest monthly report from the World Gold Council.

Its total gold reserves now stand at 1,187.5 tonnes, accounting for 10.8 percent of its total reserves, sustaining Russia’s position as the sixth-largest holder of the yellow metal in the world, WGC figures show. Russia added 92.7 tonnes to overall reserves in the second half of 2014 after 59.6 tonnes in the first half, the WGC figures also show, for an annual total of 132.3 tonnes.

The inflow of gold coincides with a consistent decline in the rouble, which hit an all-time low in December at 79.52 against the dollar, as the price of oil and Western sanctions battered the Russian economy. The rouble has since recovered to 61.5 after several interventions by the Russian central bank to stem losses.

The slump in oil prices to around $50 per barrel from nearer $110 at the start of the year has weighed in particular, while western sanctions have deliberately targeted the oil and gas industries, which account for upwards of 40 percent of the Russian government’s income.

Ukraine’s gold reserves have fallen once again to 23.6 tonnes in January from 26.1 tonnes in December, according to the WGC figures. Despite the decline, the overall percentage of foreign reserves held in gold improved slightly to nine percent from 7.8 percent in the previous month.

The country’s gold reserves are the subject of much debate after Valeria Gontareva, the head of Ukraine’s national bank, admitted that holdings had “drastically fallen” but that it was “unclear where it went”, she told Ukraine’s Kharkiv TV late last year.

Turkey’s holdings are up 12 tonnes at 533 tonnes, although its balance sheets includes gold accepted by the central bank from commercial banks in lieu of reserve requirements.

Kazakhstan, which consistently added to reserves throughout 2014, added a further 1.7 tonnes to 187.6 tonnes.

Mauritius added one tonne to 7.9 tonnes, the Philippines added 0.2 tonnes to 195 tonnes and Serbia added 0.1 tonnes to 17.4 tonnes.

Mongolia’s holdings are down 0.9 tonnes at 6.4 tonnes while those of Mexico dropped 0.2 tonnes to 122.8 tonnes.

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