Countries are expanding their bullion holdings after the West froze Russian reserves, analysts say
Central banks across the world have stepped up their gold purchases after Russia's overseas assets were frozen as part of sanctions this year, according to strategists cited by the Japanese business daily Nikkei Asia.
Some $300 billion of Russian foreign reserves, and billions more from individuals and businesses, have reportedly been frozen by the US and its allies. The Kremlin has repeatedly slammed the seizures as "theft."
Gold purchases by regulators more than quadrupled in the July-September period and totaled 399.3 tons, according to data revealed in the November report of the World Gold Council.
The figure marks a dramatic surge from 186 tons recorded in the preceding quarter, and 87.7 tons in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile the year-to-date total surpasses any full year since 1967.
Emin Yurumazu, a Japan-based economist from Turkey, told the media that "anti-Western countries are eager to accumulate gold holdings on hand," after nations saw how Russia's overseas assets were frozen as part of sanctions.
The central banks of Turkey, Uzbekistan and India previously said they had bought 31.2 tons, 26.1 tons and 17.5 tons, respectively. It is currently unclear which nations purchased the rest of the 300-ton total calculated in the industry group's report.
Some unidentified purchases are to be expected, but an unspecified slice of "this magnitude is unheard of," Koichiro Kamei, a financial and precious-metals analyst, was cited by the agency as saying.
"China likely bought a substantial amount of gold from Russia," market analyst and former Japan director for the World Gold Council, Itsuo Toshima, said. He explained that the People's Bank of China likely purchased a portion of the Central Bank of Russia's gold holdings of over 2,000 tons.
The analyst noted that this is typical behavior from the Chinese monetary regulator, which did not disclose any gold purchases from 2009 to 2015, and then reported it had increased the reserves by 600 tons. The People's Bank of China has not published any new reports on gold purchases since 2019.
The gold-buying frenzy comes as part of the latest attempts made by central banks to protect their assets by reducing their exposure to the US dollar. China has been a dominant force in the current de-dollarization trend. According to data from the US Treasury Department, the nation sold $121.2 billion in US bonds between March and October.
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