Gold ETFs and similar*

Data XLSXReport PDF

Published 4th October 2018

*A detailed explanation can be found in the notes section at the bottom of this page.

Monthly flows


Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; ICE Benchmark Administration; World Gold Council

Outflows in gold-backed ETFs continued but slowed considerably

Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs and similar products fell by 23.7 tonnes(t) to 2,329t in September – the fourth consecutive month of falls – equivalent to US$932 million in outflows. This, in addition to a drop in the gold price of 1.1% during the month, pushed assets under management (AUM) in US dollars down by 2.3% relative to August.

The lower finish in the month’s US dollar gold price was driven by higher Treasury rates, a risk-on appetite in the US, a lack of a systemic risk event worldwide, and momentum. Gold had been range bound near the US$1,200 level prior to the Federal Reserve meeting, only to fall after the latest rate hike announcement, breaking the trend of rallying following a Fed meeting. The US dollar was relatively flat on the month as strength against emerging market currencies was offset by weakness against some developed market currencies.

Flows in North American gold-backed ETFs were mixed, but ultimately negative: funds with lower management fees had robust inflows that were offset by outflows in SPDR® Gold Shares (GLD®). In our view, this highlights appetite for buy-and-hold investing versus selling pressure from short-term tactical positions. Europe and Asian funds experienced net outflows again in September after growing slightly in August. In all, trading volumes in gold-backed ETFs were light during September, falling 30% versus the y-t-d average.

COMEX futures continue to show extreme short positioning. Money managers’ net shorts are near all-time recorded highs since data became available in 2006, and non-commercial non-reporting net longs remain near negative levels last seen in 2001. But such short positioning has historically preceded rallies in the price of gold, as discussed in detail in our recent note Gold recoils amid selloff but may rebound.


‘Global Inflows’ refers to the sum of changes of all funds that saw a net increase in ounces held over a given period (eg, month, quarter, etc.). Conversely, ‘global outflows’ aggregates changes from funds that saw ounces decline over the same period. See further notes and definitions at the bottom of this page.
Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; World Gold Council

Regional flows

All regions had net outflows in September

  • Holdings in European funds fell by 10.2t (US$379mn, 1.0% AUM)
  • Funds listed in Asia decreased by 6.5t (US$253mn, 7.7%)
  • North American funds saw outflows of 6.1t (US$258mn, 0.6%)
  • Other regions saw a reduction in holdings of 1t (US$44mn, 3.5%)

Top 10 flows


Changes in tonnes for some of the funds are not directly measured but estimated. This may result in a change in the direction between tonnes and flows when these are small due to variations in FX between the timing of the fund's NAV and gold price benchmark.
Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; World Gold Council

Bottom 10 flows


Changes in tonnes for some of the funds are not directly measured but estimated. This may result in a change in the direction between tonnes and flows when these are small due to variations in FX between the timing of the fund's NAV and gold price benchmark.
Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; World gold Council

Individual flows

Lower cost ETFs in North America added assets despite net outflows in the region

  • GLD® continued to experience outflows of US$487mn or 1.7% of assets, while iShares Gold Trust added 4.1t (US$159mn, 1.6%)
  • Smaller low-cost ETFs in North America grew meaningfully: SPDR® Gold MiniShares added 3.0t (US$117mn) and grew 103% and newly launched Perth Mint added 0.8t (US$31mn, 153%), while Graniteshares Gold Trust grew by 0.3t (US$12mn, 4.4%)
  • In Europe, Source Physical Gold added 3.6t (US$141mn, 3.5%); iShares Physical Gold lost 8.4t (US$333mn, 9.3%) and UBS CHG Hedged lost 7.2t (US$272mn, 27%).
  • In China, Bosera Gold gave back its inflows from August losing 6.4t (US$251mn, 21% AUM)

Year-to-date flows

Global gold-backed ETFs have lost 1.5% of assets in 2018

  • A stronger US dollar, short positioning, and negative momentum in US dollar-based gold pricing has led to global y-t-d outflows of 42.3t (US$1.4bn, 1.6% AUM)
  • North American flows have been negative for five straight months as the price of gold has fallen, with US$3.1bn (6.8% AUM) coming out during the year
  • European fund flows remain positive for the year, but are now slightly below US$2bn (4.9% AUM)
  • After starting the year strong, Asian funds have given up most of their inflows and are now flat at 0.7t (US$134mn, 4%)

Fund flows


Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; ICE Benchmark Administration; World Gold Council

Assets Under Management


Source: Bloomberg; Company Filings; ICE Benchmark Administration; World Gold Council

Notes, definitions and methodology

Notes

Gold-backed ETFs and similar products account for a significant part of the gold market, with institutional and individual investors using them to implement many of their investment strategies. The data on this page tracks gold held in physical form by open-ended ETFs and other products such as close-end funds, and mutual funds. Most funds included in this list are fully backed by physical gold. While a few funds allow other holdings such as cash or derivatives, we only monitor those investing at least 90% through physical gold and appropriately adjust their reported assets to estimate physical holdings only. Similarly, the data only estimates the corresponding gold holdings of ETFs that include other precious metals For funds that include physical holdings of multiple precious metals, the data estimates only the corresponding gold holdings contained within them. A complete list of the gold-backed ETFs and similar products we track is included in the Data XLSX download above.

Definitions

Flows represent net creations or redemptions of shares of open-ended ETFs, or changes to the physical gold holdings that back shares of closed-end funds or similar products over a given period. ETF flows in tonnes measure demand for gold during a given period and generate the quarterly demand estimates reported in Gold Demand Trends. ETF flows in US dollars estimate the monetary value of gold demand for a given period, taking into account daily fluctuations in the price of gold.

Holdings correspond to the total assets under management (AUM) of gold-backed ETFs and similar products, measured in either tonnes or US dollars. Where tonnage holdings are not directly reported, we calculate these by dividing the US dollar value of AUM by the LBMA Gold Price per tonne – where one tonne is equivalent to 32,150.7466 Troy ounces.

Methodology

Download (pdf)

The file above describes in detail the methodology used to compute gold-backed ETF holdings and flows.

Disclaimer

This information is provided solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not, and should not be construed as, an offer to buy or sell, or as a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, gold, any gold related products or any other products, securities or investments. It does not, and should not be construed as acting to, sponsor, advocate, endorse or promote gold, any gold related products or any other products, securities or investments.

This information does not purport to make any recommendations or provide any investment or other advice with respect to the purchase, sale or other disposition of gold, any gold related products or any other products, securities or investments, including without limitation, any advice to the effect that any gold related transaction is appropriate for any investment objective or financial situation of a prospective investor. A decision to invest in gold, any gold related products or any other products, securities or investments should not be made in reliance on any of this information. Before making any investment decision, prospective investors should seek advice from their financial advisers, take into account their individual financial needs and circumstances and carefully consider the risks associated with such investment decision.

While the accuracy of any information communicated herewith has been checked, neither the World Gold Council nor any of its affiliates can guarantee such accuracy. In no event will the World Gold Council or any of its affiliates be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on such information or for any consequential, special, punitive, incidental, indirect or similar damages arising from, related to or connected with such information, even if notified of the possibility of such damages.