Swiss National Bank lost over $10bn in 2013 on weak gold prices

The Swiss National Bank, one of the world's biggest owners of gold, posted Friday a US$10.4 billion-loss for 2013, which has forced it to cancel dividends for the first time in its 107-year history.

The Zurich-based central bank said bullion record-breaking low prices last year caused its holdings to lose value, dropping more than $17 billion (5.2 billion Swiss francs). In 2013, the metal tumbled 28 %, the most since 1981.

The depreciation overshadowed offsetting a $5.9bn gain on its foreign currency positions and a $3.9bn profit from assets’ sales.

Analysts believe the massive loss may put a dent on the right-wing Swiss People's Party campaign to force the central bank keep at least 20% of its precious metal reserves. The Party has recently collected 100,000 signatures supporting a future referendum on a ruling to prohibit the bank from selling any of its gold reserves.