March 1, 2012 / 3:41 PM / 8 years ago

Bank of Israel starts investing FX reserves in US stocks

JERUSALEM, March 1 (Reuters) - The Bank of Israel said on Thursday it has begun to invest about $1.5 billion of its foreign exchange reserves in U.S. stocks to diversify its risk.

A central bank spokesman said the purchases will be made starting today through Swiss bank UBS and Blackrock. Initially, the bank will invest about 2 percent in U.S. equities with a plan to eventually raise it to 10 percent, or nearly $8 billion.

To minimise risk, the investment will be in share indexes, the spokesman said.

The reserves currently are invested in various government bonds.

The Bank of Israel has accumulated foreign exchange reserves of $77.1 billion.

The amount of reserves has swelled by nearly $50 billion the past few years. In 2008, the central bank started buying daily amounts of forex to try and weaken the shekel and support exports while also building up reserves in case of a crisis.

In 2009, the bank halted buying $100 million of forex a day but still continued to intervene regularly. It last bought forex last July. Since then, the dollar has gained versus the shekel. (Reporting by Steven Scheer)

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