Capital Flows Headed in Wrong Direction for Gold ETFs

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Holdings in global gold-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs) and similar products dropped by 39 metric tons (tonnes) in assets under management (AUM) in July, according to the latest data from the World Gold Council. The largest share of the outflow came from North America, where 25 tonnes were withdrawn.

AUM fell by 4% in July to $94 billion, helped along by a 2% decline in gold prices. North American outflows totaled $984 million, nearly two-thirds of the global outflow of $1.53 billion in the month.

For the first seven months of 2018, North American AUM have dropped 2.4%, while European funds have added 5.3% and Asian funds have added 8.2%. Combined, however, the non-North American funds hold a total value of $45.9 billion, compared with North America’s $48 billion in AUM.

In July, the U.K.-based iShares Physical Gold ETC saw an inflow of $725.5 million in AUM. The U.S.-based SPDR Gold Minishares Trust (NYSEARCA: GLDM) experienced the second-largest dollar inflow, $62.2 million, a jump of 226%.

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (NYSEARCA: GLD) leaked $752.2 million (a loss of 2.3%) and has lost $1.42 billion (down 4.1%) since the beginning of the year. On a percentage basis, July’s biggest loser was China’s Bosera Gold Exchange Trade Open-End Fund ETF, down 18% ($223 million). The Bosera fund is down 234% in the first seven months of 2018 with total outflows of $706.4 million.

In its outlook for the second half of the year, published last month, the World Gold Council identified three key macroeconomic trends that will influence investors’ attitudes about gold:

  • Positive, but uneven global economic growth
  • Trade wars and their impact on currency
  • Rising inflation and an inverted yield curve

The council sees reasons for optimism in markets like jewelry, technology and long-term savings. Investment demand often rises when equities markets decline and gold competes well with other investments on the basis of opportunity cost. These reasons are supported by a relatively low gold price that could spur investment in the yellow metal.

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF traded at $114.68 in the early afternoon Tuesday, up 0.3%, in a 52-week range of $114.31 to $129.51.

The SPDR Gold Minishares Trust traded up about 0.3%, at $12.11 in a 52-week range of 12.09 to $12.64.

Gold for December delivery (the most active contract) traded at $1,219.20 on the NYMEX this afternoon. The 52-week range is $1,212.50 to $1,392.30.