China seen boosting bank gold reserves

China may have vaulted ahead of Italy and France last year to become the third-largest holder of gold, according to a Bloomberg Industries report.

Assets were probably about 2,710 metric tons, compared with the last reported holdings of 1,054 tons in April 2009, according to the report. Italy’s holdings are 2,451.8 tons, and France owns 2,435.4 tons, according to the World Gold Council data. The U.S. is the biggest holder with 8,133.5 tons.

China’s central bank probably added 622 tons last year after reserves increased 380 tons in 2012, according to the report by Kenneth W Hoffman, senior metals and mining analyst at Bloomberg Industries.

“Based on conversations with officials in China and Mongolia, it’s evident that China feels they want as much gold as much as the U.S.,” Hoffman said in a telephone interview from Skillman, New Jersey. “The refiners in Switzerland have been talking about melting gold after the selloff in London and shipping them to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong can be traced to China.”

Assets in exchange traded funds backed by bullion fell by more than 869 tons in 2013, according to Bloomberg data, after prices fell 28 percent, the most since 1981.

“Gold has been moving from the west to the east this year,” Hoffman said

The Asian nation’s consumption of jewelry, bars and coins rose 30 percent to 996.3 metric tons in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, while usage in India, the second-biggest buyer, gained 24 percent to 977.6 tons, according to the London-based World Gold Council.

www.bloomberg.com

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