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Money Focus: Central Bank signals gold policy to change slowly


MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti, Peter Lavelle)-The Central Bank may increase the weighting of gold in its reserves in years rather than months, Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said Friday. The comment came after President Vladimir Putin earlier last week called for the bank to increase the share of the metal in its reserves. At present, the CB's gold weighting of total reserves stands at 5%.

The bank's head of External Reserves Management, Maria Guegina, recently stated gold reserves as a proportion of all reserves may be doubled. Russia produced nearly 182 metric tons of gold in 2004 and is expected to mine and sell 183 metric tons this year.

Ignatyev said the Central Bank's gold reserves had not increased in the past six years and now totaled around 500 tons (17.64 million oz) of gold in reserves, which it segregates as monetary gold, allocated gold and term deposits worth some $6 billion. He said that as Russia's foreign exchange reserves had grown rapidly, up 32.5% from the beginning of the year, the share of gold in the $165 billion total reserve had fallen.

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