"China buying IMF gold" story unfounded: author

BEIJING Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:24pm EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - The author of an article that said China had confirmed it would buy 191.3 tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund said on Friday she didn't have official sources for her story.

Nobody was available to comment on Friday at China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the arm of the central bank overseeing gold reserves.

The unverified report helped push up gold prices by 1 percent on Thursday, though other commodities fell, under pressure from a stronger dollar. Traders cited the talk about China as a significant factor why gold prices clawed higher.

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China has not said anything officially about plans to buy the IMF gold, but there has been strong speculation because of China's $2 trillion reserves and its announcement last year that it had increased its gold holdings by 454 tons since 2003.

Rough & Polished, a Moscow-based industry website, reported China had "confirmed its decision to acquire 191.3 tons of gold auctioned by the International Monetary Fund," which helped push prices up on Friday.

Contacted by Reuters, the author of the Rough and Polished story, Nadezhda Shagrova, who works as a tour guide and journalist in Shanghai, said she did not have any official information to back up her story.

"The source for the story? Well, that's been written about in lots of places. I mean, Xinhua news agency wrote about that and other official Chinese sources, lots of them. Why are you asking?"

Told that gold prices were moving on her story, she said:

"No, no, there's just no way that could be because of my article."

Wednesday's China Daily newspaper cited an unnamed official from the China Gold Association as saying China was unlikely to buy the gold being offered for sale by the IMF.

(Reporting by Tom Miles and Zhou Xin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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