Global gold-backed ETF holdings and flows

Regional and fund-specific analysis of gold holdings and flows in USD.

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. Flows in ETFs often highlight short-term and long-term opinions and desires to holding gold. 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.

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Monthly flows

ETF monthly flows

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, Shanghai Gold Exchange, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

Global gold-backed ETF flows are now positive in 2018

Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs and similar products rose in November by 21.2 tonnes(t) to 2,365t, equivalent to US$804mn in inflows, marking the second consecutive month of net inflows. Global gold-backed ETF flows are now positive in US dollar terms on the year.** The price of gold was little changed (+0.2%) and global assets under management (AUM) rose by 1.1% in US dollars relative to October.

**See note on tonnage/ flows differences below. **

Global stock markets remained volatile, although they ultimately ended the month mixed. Oil performance was a key story as the commodity fell more than 22% on the month amidst supply concerns. The US 2/10 Treasury yield curve flattened to near-low prices on the year as investors became concerned that US economic conditions may have peaked and could be showing potential for a recession in either 2019 or 2020. Long-dollar hedged gold is now higher on the year, rallying over 6% in Q3 with the improving gold and US dollar pricing.

November flows were positive across all regions. European funds led global inflows, with strong flows into UK-based funds as Brexit concerns increased and sterling weakened. North American funds saw inflows for a second straight month but remain negative on the year. Asian funds reversed two months of weak performance adding 2.3% to their assets.

Overall, gold trading volumes remained flat m-o-m, 10% below the y-t-d average. The LBMA announced a new reporting system for gold OTC trading volume (LBMA-i), which provides improved transparency into the liquidity of the gold market. Sentiment and positioning in COMEX futures remain bearish, well below historical averages. As discussed in our recent note Gold recoils amid selloff but may rebound, extreme bearish positioning in futures has historically preceded strong rallies in the price of gold


 

Regional flows

Europe led November inflows with 10.5t, US$372mn coming in to the region

  • Holdings in European funds rose by 10.5t (US$372mn, 0.9% AUM)
  • North American funds had inflows of 8.4t (US$353mn, 0.8%)
  • Funds listed in Asia increased by 2.1t (US$72mn, 2.3%)
  • Other regions saw a small increase in holdings of 0.2t (US$7mn, 0.6%)

Individual flows

SPDR® Gold Shares and iShares Physical Trust led global inflows

  • SPDR® Gold Shares led global inflows, gaining 7.7t (US$309mn, 1.1%), followed by iShares Physical Gold which gained 5.4t (US$207mn, 6.3%), and Gold Bullion Securities 2.1t (US$82mn, 2.7%) -both in the UK- as well as Huaan Yifu Gold, in China, which added 2.7t (US$104mn, 13.3%)
  • Low-cost gold-backed ETFs in the US continue to add assets as strategic holders increase holdings***
  • Funds with outflows were few but were led by Invesco Physical Gold, which lost 2.0t (US$78mn, 1.8%) and Bosera Gold, which was down 1.1t (US$45mn, 9.5%)

Year-to-date flows

Assets in global gold-backed ETFs have gained 0.4% in 2018

  • Collectively, US dollar flows in gold-backed ETFs are now positive having raised US$354mn (0.4% AUM), despite the recent trend driven by a strong US dollar and bearish gold market sentiment**
  • North America reported a second monthly inflow after six consecutive months of outflows but remain negative on the year by 50.0t (US$2.1bn, 4.6%)
  • By contrast, European funds continue to see net positive inflows with $2.9bn coming in (7.1% AUM) y-t-d
  • After starting the year strong, Asian funds have given up all their gains and are now negative losing 1.5% of their assets y-t-d

**Tonnage/ flows differences

We calculate gold-backed ETF flows both in ounces/tonnes of gold and in US dollars because these two metrics are relevant in understanding funds’ performance. The change in tonnes gives a direct measure of how holdings evolve, while the dollar value of flows is a finance industry standard that gives a perspective of how much investment reaches the funds. This month, the reported flows measured in tonnes of gold and their dollar value equivalent seem inconsistent across regions. Both figures are correct. The disparity due to the interaction between the performance of the gold price intra-month, the direction of the dollar, and the timing of the flows. For example, Europe experienced outflows early in the month when the price of gold was low but gained assets later in month when the price of gold increased.

***Low-cost US-based gold backed ETFs are defined as gold-backed ETFs that trade on US markets with annual management fees of 20bps or less

ETF regional tables

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

‘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.

ETF top inflows

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

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

ETF top outflows

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

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.

Assets under management

ETF assets under management

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

Annual fund flows

ETF annual fund flows

Data as of

Sources: Bloomberg, Company Filings, ICE Benchmark Administration, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

Length and frequency

Flows and holdings are updated monthly. Data is available on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis, presented in tables and charts.

Update Schedule

Data is updated monthly within one week of the previous month-end.

Units

Units are based on tonnage and USD flows.

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