Vietnam central bank allows gold imports to stabilize market

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Vietnamese companies have been given permission to import a total of five metric tons of gold, the nation's central bank said after local prices surged to a record.

The move will help "stabilize" the market, the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement on its website Tuesday. The central bank also said it plans to give businesses further licenses to import an additional five tons of gold to meet domestic demand.

"The move will help narrow the gap between local and international gold prices," said Ho Chi Minh City-based Phan Dung Khanh, research manager at Kim Eng Vietnam Securities Co. "It will also help stabilize the dollar-dong exchange rate."

Gold futures exceeded US$1,770 an ounce for the first time as a worldwide rout in equities and commodities deepened on concern the global economic slowdown will worsen after Standard & Poor's cut the US credit rating.

In Vietnam, gold rose to VND45.75 million ($2,200) per tael in Hanoi Tuesday morning, an all-time high, according to information from Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications. One tael is about 1.2 ounces.

The permission granted aims to prevent speculation and manipulation in the gold market, the State Bank said.

The monetary authority also said its "consistent policy" is to stabilize the value of the dong and that it's "risky" for people to buy and hold gold at the moment.

The currency was devalued by about 7 percent in February, the most since at least 1993. Officials have tried to steady the dong by clamping down on the use of dollars and gold.

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