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Russia Buys Quarter of World Yuan Reserves in Shift From Dollar

Russia’s central bank dumped $101 billion in U.S. holdings from its huge reserves, shifting into euros and yuan last spring amid a new round of U.S. sanctions.

The central bank moved the equivalent of $44 billion each into the European and Chinese currencies in the second quarter, according to a report published on late Wednesday by the Bank of Russia, which discloses the data with a six-month lag. Another $21 billion was invested in the Japanese yen.

The Chinese currency accounted for 15 percent of total holdings at the last reading, up from 5 percent at the end of the first quarter, according to the report. That puts Russia’s yuan share at about ten times the average for global central banks, with its total holdings of the currency accounting for about a quarter of world reserves in yuan, according to International Monetary Fund data. Morgan Stanley estimated Russia was the main buyer of Chinese bonds last year.

“Russia is making a strategic shift in its reserves towards holding fewer dollars and more assets in other currencies,” said Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

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