Gold market discounts more IMF sales talk

Section:

ECB Sells 47 Tonnes of Gold

By Kevin Morrison and Ralph Atkins
Financial Times
Thursday, March 31 2005

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/df9f21fc-a20d-11d9-8483-00000e2511c8.html

The European Central Bank declared on Thursday it had sold 47 tonnes
of gold, the first disposal of any of its official reserves since
its creation in 1999.

The announcement by the ECB, which joins a growing list of central
bank sellers, comes a day after the International Monetary Fund, the
world's third-largest official holder of gold, discussed the
possibility of unloading some of its 3,217-tonne store to finance
debt relief for developing countries.

The ECB gave no explanation for its unexpected decision, except to
point out that it was entitled to sell the gold under the Central
Bank Gold Agreement, renewed in 2004 for another five years.

"We are a signatory of this agreement and that is why the ECB
could also be a gold seller," said the ECB. The bank did not specify
what it intended to do with the proceeds, estimated at $650 million
(500 million, 345 million) based on current prices of $428 a
troy ounce. The sale leaves the bank, whose gold reserves were
provided by its members, with 719 tonnes.

Although the ECB said it did not intend to sell more gold in the
first year of the agreement, which ends on September 26, it refused
to say whether it might sell gold after that date. One central
banker said the ECB planned further sales. The World Gold Council,
an industry lobby group, estimates that about 290 tonnes of the
pact's annual 500-tonne target have been sold this year.

The central banker said further gold sales were allocated for the
next four years still to run under the central bank agreement. This
would make it difficult for the IMF to sell gold if it were to join
the accord.

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