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Russian banks ask central bank to resume gold buying as virus hobbles exports

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Elena Fabrichnaya and Polina Devitt
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

MOSCOW -- Russian banks have asked the central bank to resume buying gold for its reserves with exports of the precious metal hobbled by the coronavirus outbreak, their lobby group said.

The country is the world's third largest gold producer after China and Australia but the almost global grounding of passenger flights, which were used to transport the metal, has meant that banks who buy from producers before selling the metal on have to switch to a decreasing number of more expensive cargo flights or build up inventory.

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Russia's central bank suspended gold purchases on the domestic market from April 1, without giving a reason. However, analysts have suggested it is focusing on foreign currency sales to support the rouble, which has fallen in line with lower oil prices as the virus spread.

Vasily Zablotsky, the head of the National Finance Association, a non-government lobby group of Russian banks, told Reuters that banks are "facing problems" exporting gold as there are also fewer cargo flights and transportation costs have doubled. ...

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