Precious Metals Sales Surge in 2008

Sberbank said Wednesday that sales of precious metals had surged this year as its clients seek safe investments in the face of turbulent financial markets. Sberbank said its clients had bought about 6 tons of silver ingots in the first 10 months of the year -- three times as much as during the whole of 2007.

Gold purchases for the period totaled 10 tons, or 1 1/2 times as much as during the whole of last year. "In the conditions of instability in global financial markets, Sberbank's clients are more actively buying precious metals with the aim of saving and also with the expectation of making a profit due to the rise in [metal] prices," the bank said in a statement.

"The most conservative investors prefer to keep their money in precious metal ingots."

Data shows that Russians have started withdrawing money from ruble deposits at banks, and September's outflow was only partly compensated for by an increase in foreign currency deposits.