Central banks’ appetite for buying gold remained robust in July, as global reserves increased by a net 37 tonnes, the World Gold Council (WGC) reported.
The net increase in July was below the 64-tonne rise recorded in June. However, added to the 270 tonnes of net purchases by central banks over the first six months of the year, this pushes the year-to-date central bank demand towards the 300-tonne mark, said Krishan Gopaul, senior analyst for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at WGC.
“Few central banks were active during the month, but those that were, acted with purpose,” Mr Gopaul said.
Qatar Central Bank was the largest buyer of bullion, adding 15 tonnes of gold to its official reserves in July. The addition appears to be the largest monthly increase on record, which dates back to 1967.
The central bank’s gold reserves now stand at 72 tonnes, 10 per cent of total reserves, the highest on record in terms of tonnage.
The Reserve Bank of India, a regular buyer of gold, added more than 13 tonnes to its reserves, its highest monthly purchase since September last year, when it bought 19 tonnes.
The July buying has lifted its total gold reserves to 781 tonnes, up by 27 tonnes since the beginning of the year, the WGC said.
Turkey's central bank increased official gold reserves by 12 tonnes in July, broadly in line with the monthly average so far this year, and takes year-to-date gold purchases to 75 tonnes.
The Central Bank of Uzbekistan bought a further nine tonnes of gold in July, the same volume it purchased in June. After sales of 25 tonnes in the first three months of the year, net purchases for the year so far total 11 tonnes.
The National Bank of Kazakhstan, however, was the “only notable seller”, selling 11 tonnes in July and bringing its net sales this year to a little under 30 tonnes, Mr Gopaul said, citing official data.
Demand for gold has remained strong amid global geopolitical uncertainties and a weakening economic outlook.
Net buying by central banks boosted global reserves by 180 tonnes in the second quarter, with Turkey becoming the biggest buyer.
Meanwhile, a small number of central banks were responsible for the vast majority of purchases made during first six months of the year. Turkey and Egypt were the biggest net buyers of gold in the January-June period.
“H1 net purchases of 270 tonnes are virtually in line with the five-year H1 average of 266 tonnes, illustrating the strength of buying amid global instability,” WGC said in its first-half report.
In June, the Central Bank of Iraq said that it had bought about 34 tonnes of gold during the month — its first significant purchase since September 2018 — lifting its gold reserves to a little more than 130 tonnes, the WGC said at the time.
Global gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) recorded net outflows of $4.5 billion in July, as continued US dollar strength and softer inflation expectations weighed on investment activity, the WGC said in August.
North American and European funds accounted for a major share of the outflows, while gold holdings in China increased.
Though this was the third consecutive month of outflows from global gold ETFs and the largest monthly outflow since March 2021, total holdings remain 5 per cent higher so far this year, at 3,708 tonnes worth $209bn, the WGC said at the time.