Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan boosted gold holdings in April

Gold prices were on the rise on Monday, extending last week’s gains, as the International Monetary Fund published data showing centrals bank of the three former Soviet republics of Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan added to their bullion reserves last month.

According to the IMF’s monthly gold-buying report, the three nations combined boosted their holdings by a cumulative 75% more in April than they did in March.

Russia added 269,000 troy ounces to its reserves, which now are at 31.8 million ounces.

Kazakhstan bought 85,000 ounces bringing its reserves to 4 million ounces.

The Republic of Azerbaijan bought 32,000 troy ounces last month–increasing its reserves to 129,000 ounces. April was the fourth consecutive month of purchases by Azerbaijan's central bank. In December it had no reserves.

Holdings at Turkey's central bank rose 586,000 ounces last month to 13.73 million ounces.

Central banks purchases have provided important support for gold prices over the past few years. According to the World Gold Council, they bought 11.3% of all gold demand in the first quarter of this year.

April saw prices plummet to two-year lows, shedding as much as 17% to end the month 7.5% lower. The decline raised questions over the metal's safe-haven status, but also offered a chance to buy into the market at lower levels.

A Bloomberg survey showed 12 analysts expect gold prices to rise this week, while 9 expect them to fall, with 8 simply shrugging their shoulders. This is the most bullish they have been in 4 weeks.

In Monday afternoon trading, spot gold was trading up $5.90 to $1,392.20 an ounce.