Precious Metals

Even as spot market gold prices have traded at historical highs over the past few months, central banks are increasing positions and demonstrating support for the precious metal.

By Dave Brown – Exclusive to Gold Investing News

Even as spot market gold prices have traded at historical highs over the past few months, central banks are increasing positions and demonstrating support for the precious metal.

Earlier this week, the World Gold Council released an update on its official gold holdings indicating the Bank of Thailand reported an increase for its gold reserves of 9.3 tonnes in August following the net purchases of 28 tonnes during the first half of the year. These purchases combine to represent 4.2 percent of the total foreign reserves and an increase of gold holdings to 136.9 tonnes. This might seem of interest for gold investors as the Bank of Thailand may continue to add to the position during short term fluctuations in gold prices to the downside, given the still relatively modest percentage of foreign reserves in gold that it has. In terms of a monetary policy, Thailand has maintained its interest rate level for the first time this year, terminating the longest consecutive period of increases since 2006. A weakening global economy and the worst floods in five decades are seen as impediments for growth in the South East Asian nation.

Regional peer, Vietnam has recently re-authorized gold trading on foreign accounts in order to narrow the difference between domestic and international gold prices following a recent increase in demand for gold in Vietnam. The State Bank of Vietnam changed its policy following a careful collaboration with its domestic gold jewellery industry and commercial banks.

South American demand

The central bank of Bolivia reported an increase of 7.0 tonnes in gold reserves bringing its total to 42.3 tonnes of gold. The country is holding approximately 21.3 percent of its foreign reserves in gold with its last reported gold acquisition dating to last December when it also reported a 7.0 tonne increase. Bolivia has recently been in the news as a result of strong environmental protests and declining political support for the leader Evo Morales. Mr. Morales’ socialist agenda appears committed to reducing the country’s poverty; however, requisite infrastructural progress, mining activity and gas development which are critical for economic growth are generating protest movements. Although the administration’s second term in office is due to end in early 2015, some observers are uncertain that stability in the South American nation will be maintained until a new election.

Russia adding gold to its reserves

Russia has also increased its gold position to 841.1 tonnes, adding 8.0 tonnes of gold to its reserves during the summer months of July and August. Russia has been consistently adding to its gold reserves for 52 consecutive months.

Gold dispositions

The central bank of the Philippines recorded a decrease in gold reserves of 10.3 tonnes, bringing its total to 147.8 tonnes of gold. Recently the central bank of the Philippines decided to protect growth by maintaining the benchmark interest rate at 4.5 percent, keeping with the monetary policy demonstrated by South Korea and Indonesia.

Sri Lanka has reduced its gold reserves to 8.1 tonnes as the result of selling 9.3 tonnes of gold. The country has followed other Asian examples in maintaining a cautious monetary policy; however, Mr. Anoop Singh, Director of Asia Pacific Department from the IMF indicates in a press briefing last month, “Sri Lanka has introduced new fiscal reforms to broaden the tax base, to remove exemptions, to bring these in line with international standards, and I think we can be quite confident the government and the central bank remain confident to carry forward these reforms.”  Facing such uncertainty in the global economic context, the country is also modestly holding 4.6 percent of its foreign reserves in gold.



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