(Adds background on Ukraine gold sales)
SINGAPORE, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Russia raised its gold reserves for the eighth month in a row in November, while Ukraine reduced its bullion holdings for a second straight month, according to International Monetary Fund data released on Tuesday.
Russia, the world’s fifth-largest holder of bullion reserves, raised gold holdings by 18.753 tonnes to 1,187.493 tonnes last month.
Part of the increase comes as Russia’s central bank has been forced to step up buying from domestic producers hurt by Western sanctions following the Ukraine crisis, Reuters reported earlier.
Turkey also raised its gold holdings by 11.952 tonnes to 532.984 tonnes in November, according to data on the IMF website.
Meanwhile, Ukraine - locked in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists since early this year - has been selling gold from its reserves.
Ukraine is near bankruptcy, dependent on international loans, and deeply in debt for natural gas to Russia. Its foreign currency reserves tumbled to a 10-year low in November.
The country cut reserves by 2.488 tonnes to 23.639 tonnes in November, following a 14-tonne sale in October.
Ukraine’s central bank had said in November that the sale of gold reserves in October was due to the optimisation of the composition of its international reserves. It did not say if the sales were due to financial difficulties.
Significant buying and selling by central banks can influence gold prices, which are currently trading near a three-week low.
Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Michael Perry and Joseph Radford