Russia says leak prompts postponement of gold sale

Section:

By Polina Devitt
Reuters
via Forbes.com
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/reuters/2009/10/27/2009-10-27T122517Z_01_LR3...

MOSCOW -- The Russian government said on Tuesday it had postponed its plans to sell up to 50 tonnes of gold this year, after information about the sale was leaked to the market. But the gold market failed to react.

"Due to the leak of the information, the sale in the reported period and in the reported form will not take place," deputy head of the government agent for precious metals sales, Almazjuvelirexport (Almaz), Sergei Gorny, told Reuters.

He declined to tell when the sale may take place.

On Friday sources told Reuters the government planned to sell 20-50 tonnes of gold -- worth up to $1.7 billion at current prices -- to help plug a budget deficit in the first major sale since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The sales from Russia's State Precious Metals and Gems Repository (Gokhran) could account for 0.5 to 1.25 percent of global consumption of the metal, which soared in price to a record of $1,070.40 per ounce on Oct. 14.

Gokhran, which traces its history to a decree by Tsar Peter the Great in 1719, holds the Russian state's stocks of precious metals such as gold and palladium and gems such as diamonds.

Gold prices were practically unmoved by the postponement, hovering around $1040 per ounce on Tuesday.

"I think generally the market didn't expect them to sell, so this shouldn't have too much of an influence on the market," a European gold trader said.

Analysts had initially been a little sceptical of the sale plans, which come at a time when Russian central bank has been steadily increasing the share of gold -- seen as a safe haven in times of turmoil -- in its reserves.

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