A 500-tonne gap in China’s gold consumption data is fueling talk that the central bank took advantage of weak prices last year to bulk up its holdings of the precious metal.
The last time the Chinese central bank said it increased its gold holdings was nearly five years ago, in early 2009. Officials have since then repeatedly insisted that they do not view gold as a useful asset for diversifying the country’s $3.8 trillion mountain of foreign currency reserves.
But the latest official figures show that China imported and produced far more gold in 2013 than its citizens bought. This chasm suggests that the central bank was a buyer in the gold market last year in spite of its protestations to the contrary, say analysts.