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U.S. dollar share of global FX reserves hits lowest in 25 years in fourth quarter: IMF

EconomyMar 31, 2021 12:20PM ET
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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar's share of currency reserves in the fourth quarter of last year plunged to its lowest since 1995, IMF data showed on Wednesday.

The greenback's share slid to 59% in the fourth quarter, from 60.5% in the third, declining for three straight quarters. Its share in 1995 was 58%.

Still, the dollar has the largest share of currency reserves held by global central banks. It posted a high of nearly 73% share in 2001, data showed.

"For the most part, Wall Street and the rest of the world are convinced that we're bound to see a weaker dollar. If you take a look at the money growth, the initiatives from the Biden administration, it's only going to get worse," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at online FX trading platform OANDA.

"The ballooning trade deficit is going to continue and you're probably going to see that the longer-term outlook for the dollar is going to be much weaker."

In the fourth quarter, the dollar posted losses of 4%, its worst showing since June 2017. It recovered somewhat in the first quarter of 2021, posting gains of roughly 3.5%, its best performance since June 2018.

Global reserves are assets of central banks held in different currencies and are used primarily to support their liabilities. Central banks sometimes use reserves to help support their respective currencies.

The euro's share, meanwhile, rose to 21.2% in the fourth quarter, compared with 20.5% in the third. The single currency's share in the fourth quarter was the highest since 2014.

In 2009, the euro hit its highest share of FX reserves at 28%.

IMF data also showed global reserves rose to a record $12.7 trillion in the fourth quarter, from a revised $12.246 trillion in the third.

Reserves held in U.S. dollars totaled $7 trillion, compared with $6.939 trillion.

The yen's share of currency reserves grew as well to 6.03% of allocated reserves in the last three months of 2020, rising for three straight quarters.

The Chinese yuan's share increased to 2.25% during the period, gaining for four consecutive quarters. The IMF started tracking the yuan's share in 2017.

U.S. dollar share of global FX reserves hits lowest in 25 years in fourth quarter: IMF
 

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