UPDATE 1-SNB reports loss in 2013 due to fall in gold price

Fri Mar 7, 2014 2:58am EST

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* SNB posts loss of 9.1 billion Sfr in 2013

* Gold holdings lost 15.2 billion Sfr (Adds detail)

ZURICH, March 7 (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank reported a loss for 2013, as profit from its foreign currency reserves failed to offset a decline in the valuation of its gold holdings after the price of the precious metal slumped last year.

The central bank reported a consolidated loss of 9.1 billion Swiss francs, confirming preliminary figures it reported in January.

It reiterated it would be unable distribute dividends to its biggest shareholders, Switzerland's 26 cantons, or states, or to the federal government.

The SNB posted a valuation loss of 15.2 billion Swiss francs for 2013 on its gold holdings after the price of the yellow metal fell 30 percent last year.

A profit of 3.1 billion francs on the central bank's huge foreign currency positions, accumulated to defend the 1.20 per euro ceiling the SNB imposed on the franc in September 2011, as well as a 3.4 billion profit from the sale of once-toxic assets back to UBS, could not compensate for the loss on gold.

The SNB's gold holdings have come under scrutiny as Switzerland inches closer to voting on an initiative that would prohibit the central bank from selling any of its gold reserves.

Both the Swiss government and Switzerland's upper house have rejected the proposal, dubbed "Save our Swiss gold", saying it could hamper the central bank's ability to fulfil its mandate. The popular vote on the proposal may still be years off.

The SNB said losses on interest-bearing paper and instruments came in at 8.7 billion francs due to higher interest rates, whereas a favourable stock market environment helped equity securities contribute 13.7 billion to the net result. (Reporting by Alice Baghdjian)

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