The U.S. dollar's share of global currency reserves eased slightly to 61.5 percent in the first quarter of 2010 as total holdings climbed to a new record, International Monetary Fund data showed on Wednesday.
The IMF Cofer data, which covers about two-thirds of the world's foreign exchange reserves, estimates that at the end of the first quarter, global reserves stood at $8.3 trillion, up from about $8.2 trillion in the previous quarter.
Of the roughly $4.6 trillion of allocated reserves, the dollar's share was at $2.84 trillion, or 61.54 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the U.S. currency's share of global currency reserves was 62.17 percent. In the second quarter of 2001, the dollar share was 73 percent.
The euro's share of allocated reserves fell to 27.19 percent from the fourth quarter's 27.30 percent. The euro had accounted for about 18.1 percent of allocated reserves at the end of the first quarter of 1999 when it was first launched.
The yen's share rose to 3.14 percent from 3 percent in the previous period while sterling's share was steady at 4.3 percent.
The share of reserves in other currencies rose to 3.7 percent in the first quarter from 3.1 percent. This category includes currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars, analysts said. Win Thin, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said the first-quarter reserve data didn't show major change and was largely as expected. However,he cautioned that it'll be more difficult to estimate reserve changes for the second quarter.
First, the (Swiss National Bank) was very actively intervening in the second quarter, and in May alone appears to have bought something around 55 billion euros, he said in a note.
Second, the European debt crisis is going to have major impact. This would weigh on the euro share of world reserves and should show up more in the second quarter data, he added.
Meanwhile, unallocated reserves, in which China accounts for the bulk, rose to $3.7 trillion in the first quarter from $3.6 trillion previously.
While China is said to be diversifying away from U.S.assets, the country reportedly holds 65 percent to 75 percent of its reserves in U.S. dollars.
Emerging market holdings increased to $5.5 trillion from $5.4 trillion in the third quarter.
The IMF data provides only limited insight into shifts in the composition of central bank holdings because it doesn't show one-third of the world's reserves. (Additional reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by Andrew Hay)