Russia is showing no signs of slowing gold purchases as the fifth-biggest holder boosted reserves for a ninth month.
The country’s gold reserves rose to about 38.8 million ounces as of Jan. 1 from 38.2 million ounces a month earlier, the central bank said today on its website. It’s the longest stretch of monthly increases since August 2013, data from the International Monetary Fund show.
Russia has more than tripled its gold hoard since 2005 and holds the most since at least 1993, even as it recently had to use its international reserves to defend the ruble. Sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and their allies have compounded the effect of plunging energy prices and led Russia’s economy to the brink of recession. The ruble slid almost 50 percent in the past 12 months.
“For a central bank to change direction quickly is unlikely and Russia has been buying gold for a while,” David Jollie, an analyst at Mitsui & Co. Precious Metals Inc. in London, said by phone Thursday. “But it is a bit surprising to see them swapping foreign currency for gold in an environment where oil prices are falling.”
The latest purchase equals about 18.7 metric tons, similar to amounts bought in November and October, and compares with 37.3 tons added in September.
Gold gained 1.5 percent last month. The precious metal accounts for about 11 percent of Russia’s total foreign reserves, according to the London-based World Gold Council. That compares with about 72 percent for the U.S. and 66 percent for Germany, the top bullion holders, the data show.
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