Most have heard by now that Mexico disclosed that back in Q1 it bought 93.1 tonnes of gold, increasing its total gold holdings from 7.1 tons to a whopping 100.2 total tons, a stunning move which was disclosed to have been done "in line with prudent diversification principles of reserves management." However, what is less known is that many other central banks, chief among them Russia and Thailand were also waving the shiny yellow metal in between January and March. And just as importantly, from the World Gold Council, from where this update comes: "The latest statistics show no significant selling by the signatory central banks in Year 2 of the third Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA3)." So no central banks sell, yet the daytrading retail public knows better. As for the key question of whether China is adding to its meager holdings of 1,054 tons, which put it behind the GLD, not to mention France and Italy, there is no update. Recall, however, that when China announced an addition of +454 tonnes of gold in April of 2009, this indicated stealthy purchases of the metal in the 2003-2009 period. In other words, China is very likely accumulating gold and the next update will likely come some time in 2015.
From the World Gold Council:
As of the IMF’s May release of its International Financial Statistics, several countries have reported additional purchases of gold. Notably, Mexico reported to the IMF that it acquired 14.8 and 78.5 tonnes of gold in February and March, respectively. This was a significant increase in its gold holdings, raising Mexico’s position in the table to the 34th largest holder of gold with 100.2 tonnes. In its press release, the Banco de Mexico indicated that its acquisition of gold was in line with prudent diversification principles of reserves management. Indeed, Banco de Mexico’s acquisition of gold was likely motivated by a need to diversify its rapidly expanding foreign reserves, which increased from approximately $75 billion to $120 billion between Q1 2007 and Q1 2011.
Additionally, Thailand also reported an increase in its gold reserves of 9.3 tonnes in March, raising its total gold holdings to 108.9 tonnes. This follows an acquisition of 15 tonnes in July of last year. Finally, Russia continues to regularly add gold to its reserves, adding 22.5 tonnes between January and March. Russia is the 8thlargest holder of gold.
Below, we show which central banks had activity (either purchasing or selling) in Q1. We added "selling" for objectivity purposes: there was net purchasing of 126.9 tonnes of gold in Q1.
And an updated holdings list by central banks as of May 2011: