Venezuela cut gold holdings by 3.7 metric tonnes in August: IMF

LONDON Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:37am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Venezuela cut its gold holdings by 3.733 tonnes in August, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Thursday, while Brazil added just under two tonnes of bullion to its reserves the following month.

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic all reduced their gold holdings in September, the IMF's monthly statistics report showed.

Russia's central bank - which had both bought and sold gold on a number of occasions this year - cut its reserves by 2.177 tonnes to 934.557 tonnes last month, while Belarus reduced its bullion holdings by 1.493 tonnes.

On the other side of the market, Brazil was a net buyer of gold, adding 1.742 tonnes of gold to its reserves in September. Ukraine also bought 0.311 tonnes.

Central bank buying of gold has been a major support to gold prices, which hit record highs a year ago and are still holding above $1,700 an ounce - more than double their level of five years ago.

President Hugo Chavez announced in August 2011 that Venezuela would repatriate almost all its $11 billion in gold reserves held abroad, in England, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and France.

The first shipment of gold bars landed in November.

"Since the much publicized action of bringing its gold home, Venezuela has been a net seller of gold, with a previous 119,000 ounce sale in July and a chunkier offloading in December," Swiss bank UBS said in a note.

"We have to assume that, given their precedence over recent months, the country will continue with this policy, albeit irregularly."

The IMF also said Turkey raised its gold holdings by 6.843 tonnes to 302.361 tonnes in September. Turkey allows commercial banks to use gold as collateral for loans, and changes to its balance sheet are often connected to such activity.

(Editing by James Jukwey)

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