Russia bought about 19.7 metric tons of gold last month as the world’s fifth-biggest holder added metal to its reserves amid a weaker ruble and lower oil prices.
Holdings rose to 37.6 million ounces, or about 1,169.5 tons, the central bank said today on its website, taking this year’s purchases by the end of October to 134.3 tons, according to Bloomberg calculations based on International Monetary Fund data. About 150 tons have been bought in 2014, central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina told lawmakers two days ago. That indicates another 15.7 tons or so were added so far this month.
The central bank has used its international reserves to stem the ruble’s slide as sanctions accelerated capital flight and inflation. Policy makers increased interest rates last month for a fourth time since March to help slow inflation. Russia has tripled its gold reserves since 2005 and now holds about 1,185 tons, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the most recent IMF data and Nabiullina’s estimate.
“This is an attempt to reduce the risks,” Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Financial Group in Moscow, said before the release. “There is a risk present that at a certain point the west may decide to freeze or limit accounts of the Russian government abroad.”