GOLD reserves held by the Central Bank rose in value by nearly 40% last year, according to the bank's annual report.

The stock of gold was valued at €100.4m at the end of 2009, up from €72.4m, the bank said. The increase was due to the soaring price of the gold, which in euro terms rose to €766 per ounce from €621.

Prices quoted on Goldcore, which specialises in trading precious metals, show gold was trading at €922 per ounce last Friday, down from its record euro price this year of €1,040 an ounce. The price of gold has tripled since 2000.

The Central Bank's annual report also reveals that its foreign currency reserves fell to €6.75m from €10.9m in 2008 because of fluctuations. The bank holds small levels of US dollars, sterling, Japanese yen and Swiss francs.

The Central Bank made a profit of €933m last year, up from €364m. The entire surplus was transferred to the Department of Finance.