The WGC has released its latest report of official gold holdings. The key buyers and sellers, well, seller, were Russia, +27.6 tonnes, Venezuela, +3.1 tonnes, and Philippines, +10.3 tonnes, while the IMF sold 38.5 tonnes. Yet most interesting was the surge in Saudi Arabia holdings which increased its official holdings from 143 to 323 tonnes. It appears, at least on the surface, that this was not incremental purchasing, or at least that is how the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority is trying to spin it: “gold data have been modified from First Quarter 2008 as a result of the adjustment of the SAMA’s gold accounts.” We wonder just how a country can "reclassify" 180 tonnes, or more than double existing holdings, in gold. Of course, if would not be good to see the country which lies on a sea of the world's biggest non-gold, yet $-denominated commodity to be in the market, diversifying its dollar holdings into hold. If SA had in fact purchased the gold, it would be equivalent to roughly $7.5 billion worth of purchases in the open market.
Official sector gold reserves as at June 2010
European central banks sold virtually no gold over the past quarter, save a small amount for minting gold coins. Total sales by European central banks have amounted to just 1.8 tonnes since the third central bank gold agreement began in September of last year. The only sales of note made via CGBA3 have been by the IMF, which has sold 38.7 tonnes since mid-February. We expect the IMF to sell at a similar pace this quarter.
Outside of the agreement, the main purchases reported over the last quarter have been by Russia and the Philippines, both of which have long-standing gold buying programmes. The Central Bank of Russia bought another 26.6 tonnes of gold over the past quarter, taking its total gold holdings to 668.6 tonnes or 5.5% of its total reserves, and remains the 9th largest official sector gold holder. The Philippines central bank bought 9.5 tonnes of gold in March, taking its gold holdings to 164.7 tonnes or 13.7% of total reserves.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority reported last quarter that “gold data have been modified from First Quarter 2008 as a result of the adjustment of the SAMA’s gold accounts”, meaning SAMA’s gold reserves are now reported to be 322.9 tonnes or 2.8% of reserves, from 143 tonnes or 1.2% previously.
Reserve asset statistics...