SOUTH Africa’s gross reserves, which include gold and foreign exchange, have increased mainly as a result of the rise in the dollar price for gold.

The South African Reserve Bank’s holdings of gross reserves were up $629m at $45.748bn in February from $45.119bn in January, Reserve Bank data showed on Monday.

Foreign exchange reserves were up $144m at $38.306bn, while gold reserves climbed $475m to $4.960bn.

Foreign exchange reserves are an important indicator of a country’s ability to repay foreign debt in the short term and are used for currency defence. Reserves are also one of the factors used to determine a country’s credit rating.

The international liquidity position was up $205m at $40.958bn.

The increases were partially offset by the appreciation of the US dollar against most major currencies.