Russians Prefer Precious Metals to Shares or Roubles

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Precious Metals

Russians are desperate to find somewhere to stash money made over the phenomenal growth enjoyed by the country these last few years. But as the stock market has tumbled by 70% since the spring and the value of both public and privately owned companies has dropped, even rouble bank deposits have dropped in value against the dollar and euro. Not surprising then that precious metal investments have surged this year. Up to October, domestic market physical gold sales have increased by 1.5 times more than all of 2007 and silver sales have tripled according to a Reuters report quoting State-controlled Russian banking major Sberbank. Investments in precious metals have not proved to be a great hedge against weakness elsewhere. Gold is often seen as a hedge against the dollar’s weakness and with the US currency so strong over the last few months gold has not benefited from its usual status as a haven in times of trouble. However as the dollar has come off this week, at least against the Euro, the gold price has made a small recovery. Reuters is not reporting the same resilience for other precious and industrial metals all of which have weakened last week. Still those Russian investors are probably reasonably satisfied with just treading water at the moment, especially when one considers the uncertainty in the Russian market for all other investments. Precious metals, after all, have proved sufficiently robust in rouble terms to have justified the switch.

–Stuart Burns

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