Iran’s central bank began the first phase of the 45 billion-euro ($55 billion) sale of some of its reserves for dollars, the state-run Jaam-e-Jam newspaper reported, citing people it didn’t identify.
The bank is selling 15 billion euros in the first of three stages, which will be completed by Sept. 22, the newspaper reported on its website on May 31.
Iran will “substantially” decrease its oil sales in euros, the paper said. It informed Japan and other crude-oil customers of the change, Jaam-e-Jam said. The Persian Gulf country’s euro reserves are 55 percent of the total, and would be reduced to 20 to 25 percent after the sale is complete and after oil sales in euros have been reduced, the paper said.
Iran’s shift out of euros has been prompted by the single currency’s decline, said Jaam-e-Jam, which is owned by the state broadcaster. Other central banks, including those of the Persian Gulf states, also are selling their euro reserves, it said.
The euro was little changed against the dollar, rising 0.1 percent to $1.2241 at 12:45 p.m. in New York.
The euro made up 27.4 percent of global currency reserves at the end of 2009, according to the most recent data available from the International Monetary Fund. While that was down from 27.8 percent in September, it was up from 26.4 percent a year earlier.
Experts in Iran’s central bank have suggested the country buy gold because they forecast the precious metal’s price will increase, Jaam-e-Jam said.
The euro has fallen 15 percent against the dollar this year, reaching a four-year low yesterday, amid concern the debt crisis that started in Greece will spread to other nations and dent economic growth. The slide forced European Union leaders to piece together an almost $1 trillion loan package last month as confidence in the euro’s status as an alternative reserve currency to the dollar faded.
Gold is up 11 percent this year and is headed for a 10th annual gain, the longest rally since at least 1920. The metal reached a record $1,249.40 an ounce on May 14 and traded at $1,223.05 an ounce in London today.