SA’s gross reserves amounted to $50.7bn in December, an 0.84% increase from November’s $50.3bn, the South African Reserve Bank reported on Monday morning.

According to Trading Economics, the economists’ consensus was that gross reserves would decline to $48.8bn, although the actual figure came in under its forecast of $51.1bn.

Gross reserves in SA "averaged $28.9bn from 1998 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of $51.9bn in February of 2012 and a record low of $5.3bn in September of 1998", Trading economics said.

The Reserve Bank defines gross reserves as foreign exchange reserves including foreign currency deposits received, gold reserves, and special drawing rights (SDR) held.

Foreign exchange reserves make up 85% of SA’s gross reserves, and grew 0.81% to $43bn.

Gold made up 10% of December’s gross reserves, growing 1.26% to $5.2bn.

SDRs made up 5% of the total, growing 0.63% to $2.5bn.

"The increase of $425m in the gross reserves reflects the matured foreign exchange swaps conducted for liquidity management, the depreciation of the US dollar against most currencies and the increase in the US dollar gold price. These factors were partially offset by foreign exchange payments made on behalf of the government," the Reserve Bank said in Monday’s statement.

SA’s international liquidity position came to $42.9bn. This figure was arrived by deducting $9bn in foreign currency withdrawals and adding $1.2bn for the Bank’s "forward position".

"The increase of $238m in the international liquidity position reflects the increase in the gross reserves and the change in the foreign currency deposits received, which was substantially offset by the decline in the forward position," the Reserve Bank said.