Low bond yields luring global central banks into equities: survey

Sun Apr 7, 2013 4:36pm EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - Low returns on top-rated government bonds are leading central banks to take on more risk in their reserve portfolios, with almost two-thirds more inclined to invest in equities compared with a year ago, a survey showed on Monday.

The annual survey of 60 central banks with a combined $6.7 trillion in reserves showed that their reserve managers were investing in markets and currencies they would not have considered until recently.

In particular, it highlighted the growing acceptance of equities and emerging market currencies.

The survey, compiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland for Central Banking Publications, was carried out in February. The average holdings of the respondents was $112 billion.

Eight of the 60 reserve managers said their central bank was already investing in equities. Nearly a quarter of respondents said that equities either were a part of their reserve management or would be within the next five years.

"This represents a remarkable shift in official sector attitudes towards the asset class," the report said.

Taken together those central banks already invested in equities, or who gave a positive answer to the question, hold just over $2.5tn in total reserves.

RISK OF NEGATIVE RETURNS

Most respondents felt that the extraordinary policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank were having an impact on reserve management, with the rising risk of negative returns.   Continued...