Who was buying, who was selling, and who did nothing? The data is quite revealing as to what is truly going on in the world…
Editor’s Note: There is an overall theme that has dominated that last several years, and that is the shift in economic, monetary and political power from Western nations to Eastern nations. Check out that page for more information, as well as our pages with articles discussing China’s gold reserves, Russia’s gold reserves, and the various gold repatriation campaigns happening around the world. Bottom line: While the West continues to downplay and ignore gold, the East understands there are massive forces at play that will cause total systemic change, and those Eastern nations are stacking accordingly…
Central bank demand was up 42% y-o-y, the highest first quarter since 2014
- Central bank net purchases totalled 116.5t in Q1, 42% higher than the previous year
- Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan together bought 91t (net) in Q1
- Sales were again negligible: Qatar was the biggest seller, cutting reserves by 3.1t.
Net central bank purchases totalled 116.5t in Q1, 42% higher y-o-y and the highest Q1 total since 2014. Since becoming net buyers in 2010, central banks have bought – on average – 114.9t per quarter. Net purchases have become more concentrated since the 2013 peak: Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan collectively account for nearly 50% of net purchases over the last five years.
Central banks added 116t to reserves, matching long-term average purchases
Russia continues to be the most prolific purchaser of gold, adding 41.7t in Q1. Russian gold reserves have grown to 1,890.8t since the start of the year, now accounting for 18% of total reserves. The Central Bank of Russia has purchased gold for 38 consecutive months, accumulating 683.1t in that time. This commitment to growing gold reserves – a directive by authorities – shows no signs of abating and reinforces the view of gold as a strategic asset.
Turkey was again the second largest net buyer. Gold reserves – excluding those held as part of the Reserve Option Mechanism – grew by 29.8t in Q1, to reach 231.9t. Since the central bank began purchasing gold in May 2017 holdings have almost doubled, increasing by an average of 10.5t per month.
Kazakhstan has been a steadfast buyer since Q3 2012. This unbroken run of monthly net purchases continued in Q1: gold reserves grew by 9.1t to 310.1t. Since October 2012, gold holdings have increased by over 200t (+198%). Colombia and Kyrgyz Republic also increased their gold reserves during Q1, adding 2.5t and 1t respectively.
Over recent quarters, some central banks have used gold holdings to enhance overall portfolio returns. Central banks may choose to do this via active trading of their gold holdings (e.g. Jordan) or through swaps (as in Argentina). These examples highlight the role thatgold can – and does – play, beyond diversification.
Notable net sellers were again few and far between. Germany continued to marginally reduce its gold reserves by 1.4t in accordance with its coin-minting programme. Qatar and Ukraine also reduced their gold holdings in the first quarter, by 3.1t and 1.2t respectively.