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Indian Central Bank Goes on Gold Buying Spree

May 24, 2024

The Reserve Bank of India has followed the lead of China and other Eastern central banks and ramped up its accumulation of gold.

According to the latest data released by the RBI, the Indian central bank increased its gold reserves by 24 tons through the first four months of the year. The RBI added 16 tons of gold to its holdings through the entirety of 2023.

The Reserve Bank of India currently holds just over 827 tons of gold in its reserves. India ranks ninth in the world in total gold holdings.

According to a report by FirstPost.com, India is increasing its gold holdings "as a hedge against volatility amid geopolitical tensions and in challenging times," and gold is "a component of strategic reserve diversification."

Diversification has become a common theme in the world of central banking. As the U.S. has increasingly used the dollar's status as the reserve currency as a foreign policy weapon, many countries have elected to minimize their exposure to dollars. 

This has driven a broader trend of gold moving from the West to the East and into emerging markets.

The RBI noted this trend in a recent bulletin.

“The heightened global uncertainty is sending emerging market central banks on a spree of buying gold, adding 290 tonnes in the first quarter of 2024 and accounting for a quarter of overall global gold demand. Amid geopolitical developments and a slowing global economy, these central banks are signaling that living in challenging times calls for strategic diversification”

India went on a big gold-buying spree in 2022, adding about 200 tons of gold to its reserves before slowing purchases later in mid-2023. Since resuming purchases late last year, the RBI's gold holdings have increased from 7.8 percent of its total reserves to 8.7 percent. On top of physical gold purchases, India's gold holdings are increasing in both dollar and rupee terms thanks to the rising price of gold

Central banks globally have been gobbling up gold. Last year, central bank gold buying fell just 45 tons short of 2022’s multi-decade record.

According to the World Gold Council, central banks net gold purchases totaled 1,037 tons in 2023. It was the second straight year central banks added more than 1,000 tons to their total reserves.

Central bank gold buying in 2023 built on the prior record year. Total central bank gold buying in 2022 came in at 1,136 tons. It was the highest level of net purchases on record dating back to 1950, including since the suspension of dollar convertibility into gold in 1971.

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Mike Maharrey is a journalist and market analyst for MoneyMetals.com with over a decade of experience in precious metals. He holds a BS in accounting from the University of Kentucky and a BA in journalism from the University of South Florida.


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