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Russia Becomes Globe's Top Buyer of Gold Bullion, Boosting Reserves

© Sputnik / Pavel Lisitsyn / Go to the mediabankGold bars. File photo
Gold bars. File photo - Sputnik International
The Central Bank of Russia became the world's leading purchaser of gold when it bought 356,000 ounces of the precious metal in February, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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At least 356,000 ounces of gold were bought by the Central Bank of Russia last month, making it the largest buyer of the precious metal among the world's central banks, an IMF report said.

China took second place; its Central Bank purchased about 320,000 ounces of gold in February, according to Chinese Central Bank officials.

Meanwhile, it was reported last week that between March 11 and March 18, the value of Russia's gold reserves rose by $5.8 billion, from $381.1 billion to $386.9 billion.

With a seven-day period, Russia increased its gold and foreign exchange reserves by 1.5 percent. From March 1, the reserves rose by 1.7 percent, from $380.5 billion.

The country's international reserves include securities, foreign exchange cash, IMF special drawing rights, monetary gold, and a number of other assets.

A worker holds a gold bar and a silver bar produced during the opening of a new bank bar manufacturing line at the Yekaterinburg Plant for Non-Ferrous Metals Processing, in the town of Verkhnyaya Pyshma, Sverdlovsk region. - Sputnik International
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In mid-December 2015, the Russian Central Bank announced that it would increase Russia's gold reserves to $500 billion within the next five years. The terms would depend on the macroeconomic scenarios the government intends to implement.

Gold is considered to be a buffer against external economic risks and is currently in favor in Russia, one of the world's largest oil exporters, which was hit by a slump in global oil prices.

Gold reserves were used by the country's Central Bank to support the ruble exchange rate. In November 2014, the bank allowed the ruble to trade freely and stopped selling bullion. In November 2014, the value of Russia's gold reserves reached $510.5 billion.

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