IMF Ends an Era with Close of Huge Gold Reserve Sale


"Many analysts expect the public sector to become net buyers of gold."

The International Monetary Fund announced on Tuesday the completion of the massive gold reserve sale it began a year ago, likely drawing to a close decades of bullion divestment from the public sector.

The news had little impact on gold prices as the IMF had already said it sold more than 90% of the total 403.3 tons by November, but it marked an important turning point for the market, which has been lifted this year by the prospect of further buying by global central banks.

Many analysts now expect the public sectoróled by central banks in emerging marketsóto become net buyers of gold next year as they seek to diversify reserves away from the U.S. dollar and Treasuries.

The IMF gave no further details on its sales, which began in September 2009 and quickly found willing buyers among south Asian central banks, including India, which bought half. Others included Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Based on the total 148.6 tons the IMF said it had sold in on-market deals by end-October, it would have sold another 33 tons or so since then, about in line with its recent pace.

The deals are under the aegis of the Central Bank Gold Agreement, which restricts sales by its signatories to no more than 400 tons annually. With banks increasingly reluctant to part with their holdings, however, dealers were quickly wondering whether the IMF might return to the market.

"The anticipation will be to see what the next round of sales is, if any," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader, Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago.

"If the sale is off the market it could add a psychological boost and if they make another announcement about another sales program, it will give the market ideas on where things are."

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