UPDATE 1-Turkey, Russia cut gold holdings in March -IMF

Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:14am EDT

(Adds detail, background)

* Turkey cuts gold holdings by 14.3 T, Russia by 1.2 T

* Central bank bullion holdings are closely watched

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Turkey and Russia both cut their gold holdings in March after increases the month before, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Thursday.

Bullion holdings by central banks are closely watched since the group became net buyers in 2010 after two decades as net sellers.

Turkey cut its holdings by 14.3 tonnes to 483 tonnes in March, the IMF numbers showed, offsetting a modest increase in February.

The country is the world's 13th-largest holder of gold, according to the World Gold Council. It counts gold held on deposit with it by commercial banks as part of the central bank's bullion holdings.

Russia, the world's seventh-largest gold holder, reduced its bullion reserves by 1.2 tonnes to 1,041 tonnes in March. Gold held by the Russian central bank rose around 7 tonnes in February.

The 2008 global economic crisis triggered a wave of official-sector interest in gold.

Official-sector buying reached a 48-year high in 2012 at 544.1 tonnes, World Gold Council data showed, but dropped to a three-year low of 368.6 tonnes last year, driven in part by price volatility.

Gold had eased $1.49 an ounce to $1,291.75 by 0345 GMT on Friday, hovering above a 2-1/2 month low of $1,268.24 reached in the previous session amid firmer equities.

(Reporting by Josephine Masson and Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Bernard Orr and Joseph Radford)

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