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

Positive inflows in gold-backed ETFs as investors hedge risk

Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs and similar products rose in October by 16.5 tonnes(t) to 2,346t, equivalent to US$1.0bn in inflows. This was the first monthly inflow in four months. Positive gold price performance for the month (+2.3% in USD) was a key driver of inflows in North American and European funds. Global assets under management (AUM) rose by 3.1% in US dollars relative to September.

Global stock markets experienced their worst October since the 2008 financial crisis with the MSCI All-World Index down more than 7.4% on the month. As a result, gold benefited from flight-to-safety investment flows. Further, US dollar-hedged gold benefited in the stronger dollar risk-off environment, rallying 4.3% on the month. The Solactive GLD Long USD Index is now effectively flat on the year, despite gold in US dollars being down 5.8% over the same period.

Flows in North American gold-backed ETFs were positive, led by inflows in US-listed funds and counterbalanced by softer outflows in Canadian funds. Europe also had inflows, driven primarily by UK-listed funds, with nearly half the European inflows coming from currency-hedged funds. Chinese-listed funds experienced extreme flows across funds, resulting in outflows equivalent to 8% of assets. This was the second straight month of significant outflows, driven in part by profit-taking from some investors as the gold price in yuan rose by as much as 5% in October.

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

Overall, gold trading volumes increased globally this month, including those of gold-backed ETFs, where volumes increased 32% above the y-t-d average. At the same time, positioning in COMEX futures became slightly positive but remains well below historical averages. As discussed in detail 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

North America led October inflows with 12.4 tonnes coming in to the region

  • North American funds saw inflows of 12.4t (US$561mn, 1.2% AUM)
  • Holdings in European funds rose by 10.5t (US$678mn, 1.7%)
  • Funds listed in Asia decreased by 6.5t (US$259mn, 8.4%)
  • Other regions saw a small increase in holdings of 0.2t (US$19mn, 1.5%)

Individual flows

SPDR® Gold Shares and iShares Gold Trust led global inflows

  • SPDR® Gold Shares led global inflows, gaining 11.8t (US$475mn, 1.7%), while iShares Gold Trust added 5.0t (US$198mn, 2.0%). In Canada, Sprott Physical and the Central Fund each lost 4% of their assets
  • European inflows were driven largely by euro- and franc-hedged funds, accounting for $234mn of Europe’s US$678mn total inflows
  • Chinese-based fund, Huaan Yifu, led Asian inflows with 4.7t (US$186mn, 32%), while Bosera more than offset this number with outflows of 11.9t (US$467mn, 51%). This is the second straight month Bosera has lost significant assets

Year-to-date flows

Global gold-backed ETFs have lost 0.44% of assets this year

  • Collectively, flows in gold-backed ETFs remain negative by 25.8t (US$399, 0.44% AUM), despite the recent trend driven by a strong US dollar and bearish gold market sentiment
  • North America reported a monthly inflow after six consecutive months of outflows, but remain negative on the year by 58.1t (US$2.5bn, 5.4% AUM)
  • By contrast, European funds continue to see net positive inflows with $2.6bn coming in (6.4% AUM) y-t-d
  • After starting the year strong, Asian funds have given up all their gains and are now negative losing 4% of their assets y-t-d

**Tonnage/ flows differences

We calculate gold-backed ETF flows both in ounces/tonnes of gold as well as in US dollars because these two metrics are relevant to understand the performance of the funds. 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 is reaching 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 difference is the result of 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.

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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