Central banks continued their gold-buying spree in February, although the pace of gold purchases has slowed compared to last year’s near-record purchases.
On net, central banks globally added another 36 tons of gold to their reserves in February, according to the latest data released by the World Gold Council. That was about 33% higher than January’s total.
On the year, central banks have bought 64.5 tons of gold. That compares to 116 tons through the first two months of 2019.
Central bank demand came in at 650.3 tons in 2019. That was the second-highest level of annual purchases for 50 years, just slightly below the 2018 net purchases of 656.2 tons. According to the WGC, 2018 marked the highest level of annual net central bank gold purchases since the suspension of dollar convertibility into gold in 1971, and the second-highest annual total on record.
The World Gold Council bases its data on information submitted to the International Monetary Fund.
Turkey continued to be the biggest gold-buyer. The Turks added another 24.8 tons to their reserves in February.
Russia further increased its stockpile of yellow metal, adding another 10.9 tons to their hoard.
Russia’s quest for gold has paid off in a big way. The Russian Central Bank’s gold reserves topped $100 billion in September 2019 thanks to continued buying and surging prices.
The Russians have been buying gold for the last several years in an effort to diversify away from the US dollar. Russian gold reserves increased 274.3 tons in 2018, marking the fourth consecutive year of plus-200 ton growth. Meanwhile, the Russians sold off nearly all of its US Treasury holdings. According to Bank of America analysts, the amount of US dollars in Russian reserves fell from 46% to 22% in 2018.
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