Russia says it will sell some U.S. Treasuries, buy IMF bonds

Russia's Central Bank says it plans to cut its reserves of U.S. Treasury securities and invest in International Monetary Fund bonds instead, a senior official said Wednesday.

About 30% of Russia's $400 billion worth of hard currency reserves are currently held in U.S. Treasuries.

"We are planning to gradually reduce the share of U.S. treasuries as a window of opportunity for working with other instruments is opening, and the situation with foreign banks has become clearer," Alexey Ulyukaev said in comments quoted by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Ulyukaev said Russia would invest in IMF bonds and bank deposits. IMF bonds are denominated in special drawing rights, an artificial currency used by the IMF.

Russian officials have expressed concern about the dollar's role as an international reserve currency for several years and President Dmitry Medvedev has even argued that the ruble should serve as a regional reserve currency because the dollar is too unstable.

The comments follow remarks by Chinese officials advocating a shift away from the dollar as an international reserve currency and expressing worries about a fall in the value of the dollar due to large U.S. budget deficits.

Russia's announcement comes just a week before BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — gather in Russia's Urals city of Yekaterinburg for talks. BRIC leaders are widely expected to discuss alternatives to the dollar as the global reserve currency.

Russia earlier said it would buy up to $10 billion worth of IMF bonds with money from its foreign reserves.

The dollar was up 0.4% against the euro at 1.4002. It was flat against the pound at $1.63 and down 0.7% against the yen at 98.06 yen.

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