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Russia, China central banks increase gold purchases in June

Both Chinese and Russian banks increased gold purchases in June after slowing in May, data released by the two banks showed this week.

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Russia's additions totaled around 18 mt in June, up from around 5 mt in May, and its largest monthly purchase since January, central bank data indicated Tuesday.

It takes total purchases to 66 mt in 2016, just below 68 mt for the same period in 2015.

Russia's central bank reports gold reserves initially in monetary value, before releasing the volume on the IMF website at a later date. Using the month-end London Bullion Market Association gold price, additions can be calculated.

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Additions by China's central bank totaled around 15 mt in June, Platts reported earlier this month, having completely stalled buying in May.

The country has added 61 mt of gold to its reserves this year, having added around 106 mt in 2015, from when it started reporting additions in June, to December.

China's total gold holdings now stand at 1,823 mt, making it the sixth largest holder of gold reserves, according to the IMF, behind the US, Germany, the IMF itself, Italy and France.

Russia is the seventh largest, at 1,481 mt, according to the most recent data.

The two countries have accounted for over 95% of total central bank purchases in the last two years, as both countries look to diversify assets away from foreign currency.

High gold prices, up around 25% year-to-date, were thought to have slowed gold purchases for both countries in May. Prices rose even further in June to 28-month highs of $1,375/mt.

Yet given the size of the holdings relative total reserve assets, both China and Russia lag behind its peers.

Russia holds around 15% of its reserves in gold, according to the IMF, China just 2.1%. In comparison the USA holds close to 75% of its reserves in gold, with many European countries over 65%.

As a result, most analysts expect both countries to continue purchases in the months ahead.

The London Bullion Market Association Gold Price settled at $1,323/oz Tuesday afternoon, up $9.85 from the previous day.

George King Cassell,