IMF hints at U-turn on gold sales

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund is examining alternatives to its controversial plan to sell 300 tonnes of gold reserves to fund a pounds 27bn debt relief programme for developing countries.

Stanley Fischer, IMF deputy managing director, said he was looking at ways to avoid the sale, but added: "We don't want to rule it out until we have an alternative solution." He was speaking during a visit to South Africa where 100,000 jobs are under threat from the falling gold price. Opponents of the plan, including many of the 36 gold-producing countries, hope to persuade Congress in Washington to use the US's 17 per cent of the IMF's vote to block it. Gold rose by almost $1 yesterday, closing in London at $256.90 an ounce, up from $255.80 on Friday.