Kazakh gross FX/gold reserves shrink by 3.15% in January

By bne IntelliNews February 9, 2016

Kazakhstan's gross FX/gold reserves decreased by 3.15% to $26.996bn as of the end of January, the National Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) has said. The National Oil Fund’s assets grew by 0.22% m/m to $63.647bn.

The NBK did not explain the reason for the decrease in reserves but detailed data shows that the decline was specifically in the reserves held in foreign currency not in gold. In monetary terms, gross foreign currency reserves declined by $880mn, while the NBK’s interventions in the foreign currency exchange market reached $58mn in January, according to the bank’s Governor Daniyar Akishev. The discrepancy in the data, without the comment from the NBK may be disturbing for the observers of the Kazakh currency market. In 2015, Kazakhstan in total burnt $17.7bn to prop up the tenge. That the NBK's interventions might well have exceeded $58mn is indirectly explained by the strengthening of the tenge against the dollar in the second half of January: the exchange rate increased from a historical low of KZT384.48 to the dollar on January 21 to KZT364.33 on January 29.

According to the bank's figures, foreign currency reserves dropped by 6.32% m/m to $19.017bn while gold reserves went up by 5.32% m/m to $7.979bn. The growth in gold reserves is a result of both an increase in global gold prices and the NBK’s policy to buy all gold produced in the country.

In 2015, the NBK’s gross FX/gold reserves went down by 4.56%, while the National Oil Fund’s assets shrank by 13.29%.

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