The central bank of Mexico bought nearly 100 tonnes of gold in February and March, the latest emerging market country to turn to bullion as a means of diversifying away from the faltering dollar.
The purchase is one of the largest by a central bank in recent history. The gold, worth $4.6bn at current prices, is equivalent to about 3.5 per cent of annual mined output.
The central bank has not been publicly announced the move, but has reported it both on its own balance sheet, posted online, and to the International Monetary Fund’s statistics on international reserves.
Central banks became net buyers of gold last year after two decades of heavy selling, a dramatic reversal that has helped propel the price of bullion to a series of record highs
On Wednesday morning, gold was trading at $1,535 a troy ounce, down from the nominal record of $1,575.79 touched on Monday.
Mexico follows other booming emerging market economies, including China, India and Russia, which have all made large additions to their gold reserves in recent years.
Matthew Turner, precious metals strategist at Mitsubishi, the Japanese trading house, said the purchase “seems to confirm there’s an appetite now among emerging economies with large forex reserves to add to their gold reserves. Gold is seen as one way in which to diversify away from the dollar- or euro-denominated assets.”
The dollar has plunged 10 per cent since January against the world’s major currencies and is trading near an all-time low. Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has suggested that gold should form part of a new international monetary system
China announced in 2009 that it had bought 454 tonnes of gold over the previous six years; India bought 200 tonnes of gold directly from the International Monetary Fund in October 2009; and Russia has bought just less than 400 tonnes on the open market over the past five years.
However Mexico’s buying in February and March, which amounted to 93.3 tonnes of gold, is one of the most rapid programmes of accumulation on record. Apart from India’s off-market purchase in 2009, the 78.5 tonnes bought in March is the largest monthly purchase by a central bank in at least a decade, according to data from the World Gold Council.
The Bank of Mexico could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.
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