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Russia's central bank sells 3.1 tonnes of gold in March, publishes last year's missing gold reserves data

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(Kitco News) There is now more clarity on what Russia's central bank did with its gold reserves during the last year.

In March, the Russian central bank sold 3.1 tonnes of gold as the precious metal kicked off a major rally, the World Gold Council reported, citing new International Monetary Fund (IMF) data.

"The Central Bank of Russia reduced its official #gold reserves by 3.1 tonnes in March. More interestingly, it has now published its monthly gold holdings back to February 2022," said WGC's senior analyst Krishan Gopaul.

According to the latest data, Russia's gold reserves increased by 28 tonnes.

Analysts have reacted positively to more detailed data, but some questions remain regarding Russia's gold production and where the precious metal is going.

"I'm glad to see that the history of Russia's #gold holdings has now been backfilled," said WGC's chief market strategist John Reade. "It does beg the question of where the rest of Russia's production has gone - at about 300t per annum this is far more than domestic demand or CBR's reported purchases."

Another central bank that sold gold in March was Turkey — the biggest buyer of the precious metal in 2022. The country offloaded 15 tonnes in March, the WGC said, which marked the first monthly net sale since November 2021 and lowered the country's reserves to 572 tonnes. Turkey's official gold reserves rose by 148 tonnes last year, marking the highest level on record.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan also lowered its reserves by 10.5 tonnes of gold in March. However, Kazakhstan was a seller even before this. Year-to-date, the Bank reduced its gold holdings by 19.6 tonnes. The country's total gold reserves are now at 332 tonnes - the lowest since August 2018.

In other news, Czech National Bank bought 1.5 tonnes in March. This is a big acquisition for the Bank, which acquired 1.4 tonnes for the whole of last year. The country's total gold reserves are now at 13.5 tonnes — the highest level since mid-2006.

India bought 3.5 tonnes of gold bullion last month as well, raising its Q1 total to 7.3 tonnes, said Gopaul. And this purchase comes after the People's Bank of China reported an additional 18-tonne gold purchase in March, marking its fifth consecutive month of gold buying.

Gold kicked off March trading at around the $1,860 an ounce level and ended the month at $1,998. During that time, gold tested the $2,000 level twice. At the time of writing, June Comex gold futures were trading at $1,998.20, up 0.39% on the day.

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