Russia Named Top Global Gold Buyer so Far this year

The Bank of Russia’s net gold purchases were the highest in the world in the first quarter of 2019, reaching 55.3 tons and bringing the country’s gold reserves to 2,168.3 tons, new data by the World Gold Council (WGC) reveals, according to RBC.

“Russia was again the largest buyer, adding 55.3 tons in the first quarter. This brought gold reserves to 2,168.3 tons (19% of total reserves). Russia bought 274.3 tons in 2018 — the fourth consecutive year of +200t increases – while drastically reducing its U.S. Treasury holdings, as part of its ‘de-dollarization’ drive,” the WGC said in a report issued on Thursday.

“We’ve seen a continuation of the strong demand from central banks,” said Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council. “We’re expecting another good year for central bank purchases, although I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they are to match the level seen in 2018.”

China was among the largest buyers, too, having purchased 33 tons of the precious metal in the first quarter, the report also showed.

Overall, net buying by central banks across the world reached the highest Q1 levels since 2013, having increased by 68 percent year-on-year to 145.5 tons, according to the statistics.

In 2016, the Central Bank of Russia became the world’s leading purchaser of gold when it bought 356,000 ounces of the precious metal in February, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).