After failing to break through a key $1,400 per ounce mark, the price of gold has been on the downswing, almost giving up all its gains for 2014 (currently quoted at $1,292 / oz). This comes on the heels of a few reports of several central banks having been buyers of gold in February and with increased geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. China’s gold imports from Hong Kong rose amid increasing demand, to 109.2 metric tons in February, compared with 83.6 tons in January and 60.9 tons in February of last year.

Iraq apparently made one of the largest open market purchases of gold bullion, acquiring 36 tonnes of gold in March and more than doubling its holdings of the precious metal from 29.8 tons to 65.8 tons. It is unlikely that this whole amount was purchased this month, or even last month, but the announcement from Iraq is significant as this is such a large purchase on the open market. The Middle-Eastern country is probably generating a lot of cash thanks to oil production picking up, not to mention that the region has a history and general comfort with gold ownership. Amid the "crisis" in Crimea and Ukraine the Russians also added to their gold reserves. Not sure if this was a planned purchase or a shot across the bow amid creeping economic sanctions from the West, but the Russians picked up 7.25 tons of gold, bringing their overall holdings to 1,042 tons.

Lastly, though this is not a Central Bank or government buying, but Japanese investors have been bigger buyers of physical gold as they try to make their purchases prior to an upcoming increase in the country's sales tax. I would think that the destruction of the Yen would have been just as much of a reason in driving the population to hold more gold.

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