April 25, 2015 / 1:20 AM / 4 years ago

El Salvador sells 80 pct of gold reserves to hedge risk -central bank

SAN SALVADOR, April 24 (Reuters) - El Salvador’s central bank sold about 80 percent of its gold reserves last month to diversify risk and take advantage of the metal’s appreciation, a central bank official said on Friday.

The country, which has been dollarized since 2001, sold 5.412 tons of gold for $206 million, which will go into the Bank’s reserve portfolios to protect it against market volatility.

The poor Central American nation was the only country to sell gold in March, while Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia increased their holdings, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund on Friday.

El Salvador’s central bank expects the economy to grow 2.8 percent this year, above the 2.2 percent reached in 2014, thanks to a U.S. recovery and lower oil prices.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Alan Crosby

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