UPDATED: Latest Gold Reserve figures from the World Gold Council

A computer glitch had recorded the % of reserves for all countries at 18.8%.  This has now been corrected.

The World Gold Council (WGC) has today announced its regular statistical update on gold reserves in the official sector.  This monthly release includes (1) World Official Gold Holdings ranking gold holdings by country, (2) a spreadsheet with the latest changes in official sector gold holdings.  As noted these are not completely up to date – except for the Chinese reserve figure where we have added in the 19.8 tonne change in our table.  We are also only showing the Top 20 national plus IMF holdings in our table below – a full table for all countries as reported to the IMF is available on the WGC website (www.gold.org/statistics ).

Table 1.  Top 20 Gold Reserves as reported to the IMF

Tonnes % of reserves**
1 United States 8,133.5 73.4%
2 Germany 3,381.0 67.7%
3 IMF 2,814.0
4 Italy 2,451.8 65.6%
5 France 2,435.5 65.6%
6 China 1,722.5 1.8%
7 Russia 1,370.6 13.6%
8 Switzerland 1,040.0 6.4%
9 Japan 765.2 2.3%
10 Netherlands 612.5 56.5%
11 India 557.7 5.8%
12 ECB 504.8 25.8%
13 Turkey 500.9 15.3%
14 Taiwan 423.6 3.5%
15 Portugal 382.5 72.9%
16 Venezuela 361.0 67.4%
17 Saudi Arabia 322.9 1.8%
18 United Kingdom 310.3 8.6%
19 Lebanon 286.8 20.9%
20 Spain 281.6 18.8%

* This table was updated in December 2015 and reports data available at that time.  Data are taken from the International Monetary Fund’s International Financial Statistics (IFS), December 2015 edition, and other sources where applicable. IFS data are two months in arrears, so holdings are as of October 2015 for most countries, September 2015 or earlier for late reporters

What analysts primarily look out for are for any month by month changes in the official holdings figures.  As can be seen below the only significant regular additions to gold reserves in the second half of the year are By Russia (95.6 tonnes in the four months to end October), China (83.9 tonnes in the five months to end November) and Kazakhstan (11.7 tonnes in the 4 months to end-October).  Our assumption is that going forward we would expect these countries, which seem intent on building their gold reserves, will continue to buy at a similar pace.  For the record. According to the IMF figures Kazakhstan is 23rd on the list of national gold holders with 216.3 tonnes which accounts for 27.8% of its total official reserves.

The IMF figures should be taken as a guide as they relate to holdings as reported by the various countries and do not take account of gold holdings which may be temporarily reduced due to gold swaps and leasing (as the countries do not need to report these figures under the IMF guidance), or countries which may be under-reporting their gold holdings as many believe China to be.

Table 2  Changes to official reserves since July*

Country Comments Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Belarus Purchases and swaps +2.5  -3.0  -2.5
Brunei Darussalam +0.2  -0.3
China +19.0 +16.2 +14.9 +14.0 +19.8
Colombia  -6.6  -0.3
Czech Republic  -0.2
France +0.1
Jordan +7.5  -0.6
Kazakhstan Purchases and swaps +2.5 +2.1 +3.2 +2.9
Malaysia +0.6
Mexico Additions to reserves and trading  -0.1  -0.2  -0.2  -0.1
Mongolia Trading activity +1.0  -0.9  -0.6  -0.2
Mozambique +0.6  -0.9
Philippines Buys locally produced gold; may sell or retain in reserves +0.1
Russia Mainly purchases of gold in the domestic market & other changes +13.1 +29.6 +34.5 +18.4
Serbia +0.1 +0.1
Sri Lanka Trading activity  -0.2
Turkey3 +17.2 +0.6  -13.2  -3.6
Ukraine +2.2 +0.9 +0.3
United Arab Emirates +2.4 +0.1 +0.1
Uruguay  -0.2

*As in Table 1, IFS data are two months in arrears, so holdings are as of October 2015 for most countries, September 2015 or earlier for late reporters.  We have added in China’s latest Reserve upgrade for November.

3Gold has been added to Turkey’s balance sheet as a result of the policy accepting gold in its reserve requirements from commercial banks




Significant Changes YTD in World Gold Holdings

The World Gold Council  has just updated its tabulation of global gold reserves country-by country – and the accompanying table of country-by-country reported changes year to date makes for interesting reading at looking at gold flows in and out of global central banks.  The tabulation of significant (+1 tonne total) changes in gold holdings on a month by month basis is set out below:

Country Jan Feb Mar Apr May June Jul Aug Sept Net Total
Belarus -1 3 2.5 -3 1.5
China* 604.3 19 16.2 14.9 654.4
El Salvador -5.4 -5.4
Germany -0.8 -2.4 -3.2
Jordan 3.4 8.1 2.5 0.9 7.5 22.4
Kazakhstan 1.7 2.7 2.3 2.4 2.6 2.3 2.5 2.1 3.2 21.8
Malaysia 0.6 0.6 0.3 0.6 2.1
Mauritius 1 1
Mongolia -1 -0.1 -0.3 0.7 1.0 -0.9 -0.6 -1.2
Russia -0.5 30.5 8.3 4.3 24.1 13.1 29.6 34.5 143.9
Turkey** -14.2 -4.6 2.7 -6.5 -1.9 -4.8 17.2 0.6  -13.2 -24.7
Ukraine 0.3 2.2 0.9 3.4
UAE 2.6 -0.1 2.4 0.1 0.1 5.1

Source: World Gold Council, IMF, lawrieongold

*China figure includes big gold reserve accumulation reported in July, but applicable to an unreported reserve build-up over the previous 6 years.

** Turkey’s reserve figures are somewhat anomalous as they include holding held in the country’s commercial banking system and are thus prone to be far more volatile on a month-by-month basis.

Looking at annual Central Bank gold purchases, if we strip out the big Chinese reported addition to reserves reported in June (which was an accumulation built up over the prior 6 years) and replace that with a nominal 15 tonnes a month for the first nine months of the year – the kind of level it is reporting now on a month by month basis.  And also strip out the anomalous Turkey total, we look to be heading for total central bank purchases, net of sales,  for the full year of around 440 tonnes which is pretty much on target from analysts forecasts.

With the major monthly buyers – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and perhaps Jordan – seemingly committed to ongoing gold reserve increases there seems to be little reason why these shouldn’t continue into 2016 and beyond.

Chinese Gold Reserves Up Another 15 t as Forex Reserves Tumble $43bn

Lawrie Williams

Latest gold reserve figures from the Chinese central bank show that the country added another 15.01 tonnes in September.  At September’s average gold price that will have equated to around a little under US$600 million in value.  But total Chinese forex reserves dived by a massive $43.3 billion to their lowest level in over two years, so the official gold purchase figure – if it is to be believed – forms only a very small part of this.

Some see the additional gold taken into the bank’s coffers as yet another indication of China’s intent to diversify its forex reserves out of the dollar, but the amounts are tiny relative to the size of the country’s overall forex reserves which still sit at a massive $3.5 trillion! The big September fall (1.2%) in the latter either suggests a huge programme of mostly dollar denominated sales in order to maintain the country’s current currency relationship with the greenback and to help prop up the domestic economy, or perhaps some other unknown transactions involved – or a combination of both.

We can speculate that one such other transaction could be that China is buying much more gold than it is saying and holding it in other accounts which it doesn’t feel the need to report to the IMF as part of its official gold reserves….

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