Global central bank gold reserves fell by 6t in February (Chart 1).1,2 This is the second consecutive month of net sales, something not seen since 2020. However, despite a cumulative decline of 18t y-t-d, global gold reserves remain above 35,600t – their highest level since 1990.3
Global central bank net sales continue in February
Activity in February was confined to a small number of banks, with significant changes at one or two once again dominating the story. Uzbekistan was the largest seller in the month, decreasing its gold reserves by 22t to 339t – the lowest level of gold holdings since December 2020. As we have noted previously, this is not the first significant transaction from Uzbekistan in recent years. Active management of its gold reserves means changes are common. Even after the sale in February, gold reserves still account for 59% of total reserves.
Other net sales were modest in comparison. Kazakhstan sold a further 5t in February, following a 17t sale in January. Gold reserves now total 380t (69% of total reserves) – the lowest level since June 2020. Kazakhstan has traditionally bought from domestic sources and it is not uncommon for gold producing nations to swing between buying and selling. Qatar (6t), Mongolia (1t) and Germany (1t) were the other notable sellers in the month – with the latter likely related to coin-minting.
Net purchases were dominated by Turkey, which added 25t to its gold reserves in February. This takes y-t-d buying to over 35t (Chart 2), and pushes total gold reserves to 429t (27% of total reserves). India bought 2.6t in February, taking its total gold holdings to 758t. Ireland, the only active developed market buyer, added 1t of gold to its reserves during the month. Total gold holdings now stand at over 11t, 88% higher than at the end of August 2021, when Ireland began to purchase gold.
We will have a full review of central bank gold activity in Q1 2022 in our upcoming Gold Demand Trends report which will be published at the end of April.
Chart 2: Year-to-date central bank net purchases and sales*
1Our data set is based on IMF data but is supplemented with data from respective central banks where it is available and not reported through the IMF at the time of publication. This data may be revised in our next monthly update should more data become available.
2All figures are net except where otherwise indicated.
3Global gold reserves as at 31 January 2022.