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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar's share of global foreign exchange reserves edged lower in the first three months of the year, compared with the previous quarter, but the greenback remains the largest reserve currency held by global central banks, according to IMF data released on Friday.
The amount of reserves held in dollars rose to $5.71 trillion even as the greenback's share fell to roughly 64.5 percent of allocated reserves in the first three months of 2017, down from 65.2 percent in the fourth quarter last year, according to the data from the International Monetary Fund. The amount of reserves held in dollars stood at $5.50 trillion in the fourth quarter.
Global reserves are assets of central banks held in different currencies primarily used to back their liabilities. Central banks have sometimes cooperated in buying and selling official international reserves in order to influence exchange rates.
The euro was a distant second to the dollar, with a share of 19 percent of allocated reserves, little changed from the fourth quarter. At its peak in 2009, the euro's share of global reserves was 28 percent.
The yen's share of currency reserves rose to 4.6 percent in the first quarter, from 3.9 percent previously. The Japanese currency had the largest quarterly rise in the share of allocated reserves.
The Chinese yuan's share of allocated currency reserves was 0.9 percent in the first quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter. The IMF had reported the yuan's share of central bank holdings for the first time for the fourth quarter of 2016.
IMF data also showed that global foreign exchange reserves rose to $10.90 trillion in the first quarter, up from $10.72 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016. The first quarter's total reserves reversed a portion of the fourth-quarter decline and represented the first meaningful quarterly rise since 2014, said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist, at Scotiabank in Toronto.
The total amount of allocated currency holdings also grew, to $8.85 trillion, from $8.43 trillion previously.
Allocated reserves now include part of China's official reserves, with full currency allocation disclosure set to take two to three years.
"China's gradual disclosure continues," Osborne said. "The share of allocated reserves as a percentage of total reserves now exceeds 80 percent."
Unallocated reserves, or those that have not been reported to the IMF, slid to $2.05 trillion in the first quarter from $2.29 trillion in the last three months of 2016. Unallocated reserves represented just 19 percent of the total global FX reserves. It was widely believed in the currency market that part of China's reserves was in the unallocated pool.
The Australian and Canadian dollars, which over the last year have been included in the reserves composition, showed shares of roughly 2 percent each.
For the full breakdown of the data, click here (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)