UPDATE 1-Russian central bank sees no need to restart gold buying

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MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) - Russia’s central bank sees no current need to restart purchases of gold for its reserves, it said in a letter to an association of Russian banks, a copy of which was seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The association previously asked the central bank to resume buying gold as, it said, exports of the precious metal were hobbled by the coronavirus outbreak that has grounded passenger flights used to transport the metal.

The central bank suspended gold buying for its reserves on April 1, when it held 73.9 million troy ounces of gold with a value of $120 billion.

“The central bank does not see it expedient at the current time to resume regular purchases of gold in the domestic market,” it said in the letter to the National Finance Association, the non-government lobby group of Russian banks.

The central bank confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Reuters.

The central bank also said there was no need for it to start accepting gold pledged as collateral for the refinancing of banks’ debt or organising gold swap deals.

It added it would continue to monitor the situation in both the global gold market and the banking sector.

Last week Russia, the world’s third largest gold producer after China and Australia, agreed to start providing full export rights for miners to export gold, instead of one-off rights, to support them in shipping metal overseas independently. (Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Jason Neely and Alex Richardson)