London — China's gold reserves increased by 15.98 mt in January to 1,778.4 mt, data released by the People's Bank of China showed Tuesday.
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The official reserve data released via the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, showed the country has continued to add gold to its foreign reserve assets in 2016, following additions of 105.1 mt in 2015.
The country only began publishing data on its gold reserves in June last year, since when time they have grown 7.3%.
China is the world's second largest central bank purchaser of gold behind Russia, which added 208 mt of gold in 2015.
The two countries accounted for over 90% of total central bank buying last year as both countries looked to diversify reserve assets and China pushed the yuan toward international standards.
Total foreign reserve assets published by the PBOC were lower for a third consecutive month meanwhile, down $99.5 billion to $3.231 trillion, following a fall of $107.9 billion in December.
China's foreign exchange reserves declined by $513 billion in 2015 and is currently at its lowest level since 2012, data showed.
The gold price has risen over 12% in 2016 to date, trading at $1,200/oz for the first time in seven and a half months early Tuesday.
The precious metal has gained on safe haven demand driven by market turmoil and global economic growth concerns.
"Against the backdrop of growing fears about the global economy, plunging equity markets and falling bond yields, investors are seeking refuge in the safe haven that is gold," Commerzbank said in a note Tuesday.
"For as long as the aforementioned factors continue to predominate, the gold price is likely to continue to soar," the German bank added.
--George King Cassell, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jonathan Dart, email@example.com