The International Monetary Fund said on Monday it sold 200 tonnes of gold to the Reserve Bank of India for $6.8 billion, quietly executing half of a long-planned bullion sale that had threatened to slow gold’s rally.
While the IMF’s plan to sell some of its gold holdings had been flagged for a year before it was formally approved in September, the speed of the deal and the buyer were a surprise for traders, who had expected China — not India — to be the leading contender as Beijing diversifies its vast reserves.
The sale, which an IMF official said was concluded at an average price of about $1,045 an ounce over a two-week period in the latter half of October, will relieve the market of some of uncertainty over how and when the fund would execute its plan to sell 403.3 tonnes of gold, about one-eighth of its total stock.
“This transaction is an important step toward achieving the objectives of the IMF’s limited gold sales program, which are to help put the fund’s finances on a sound long-term footing and enable us to step up much-needed concessional lending to the poorest countries,” the IMF’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said in a statement.
While the threat of IMF and central bank sales did not stop gold prices from soaring to a record high $1,070.40 last month, aided by a falling U.S. dollar, traders said the IMF news could add to the market’s upward momentum.
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