Central banks added the most gold to reserves in almost a half century last year as prices averaged a record, the World Gold Council said.
The banks bought 145 metric tons in the fourth quarter, an eighth successive quarter of net buying, the London-based industry group said today in a report. They added 534.6 tons to reserves last year, 17 percent more than in 2011 and the most since 1964, it estimates.
Nations from Brazil to Russia are adding the metal to reserves at a time when investors are holding a near-record amount through gold-backed exchange-traded products. Bullion gained for a 12th straight year in 2012, the best run in at least nine decades, averaging $1,669 an ounce through the 12 months.
“We think that the current rate of net central bank purchasing, driven by emerging countries, is likely to continue to be very strong,” Marcus Grubb, managing director of investment research at the council, said yesterday by phone from London. “This is very much due to a desire to diversify away from over-reliance from the dollar and the euro.”