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Banking

Swiss central bank loses billions as gold value falls

Switzerland's central bank has said it has lost billions of francs after the price for gold dropped markedly throughout 2013. It said no dividends would be paid to shareholders, as the bank ended last year in the red.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) said Monday it expected to report a loss of 9 billion Swiss francs (7.3 billion euros, $9.9 billion) for 2013, with the forecast based on provisional figures.

The country's central bank stated it lost a staggering 15 billion francs in the values of its huge gold holdings. The price for the precious metal dropped sharply last year, falling by a quarter to about $1,200 per ounce between January and December.

Is gold losing its status as a crisis-proof investment?

SNB said it could only partly offset the losses on gold with profits in other segments. The lender gained three billion francs in foreign currency operations and another three billion francs in profit from selling its stabilization fund, which bailed out Swiss bank UBS.

Disappointed shareholders

SNB also needed to put aside three billion Swiss francs as a provision for its currency reserves, making it end up even deeper in the red in 2013.

"As the loss will be substantially larger than the 5.3 billion Swiss francs in the distribution reserve, the SNB cannot make a profit distribution," the bank said in a statement.

This means that the lender will not provide dividends to its shareholders or profits to the Swiss government and the 26 cantons.

hg/tj (dpa, AP)

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