Gold ETF Flows: December 2022

Gold ETFs saw outflows of US$3bn in 2022



  • Global gold ETF registered net outflows of US$3bn (110t) in 2022
  • North America, Europe and Asia all contributed to the overall fall in global holdings over the year
  • December was the eight consecutive month of negative demand (4t m-o-m) but the third consecutive month the pace tonnage outflows slowed.

Physically-backed gold ETFs saw outflows of US$3bn in 2022, equivalent to a decline in holdings of 110t (-3% y-o-y). This reflects an interesting year for gold ETFs, in which demand surged during the first four months – as geopolitical risk took centre-stage – before steadily giving back these gains as aggressive rate hikes dominated the narrative. At the end of 2022, global gold ETF assets under
management (AUM) stood at US$203bn (3,473t).

Funds listed in North America and Asia saw demand falter most. North American fund holdings registered a decline of US$3bn (75t) during the year, led primarily by the two largest and most liquid funds: SPDR Gold Shares and iShares Gold Trust. The region saw a strong start to the year, with collective demand of 188t between January and April, before higher yields and a stronger dollar weighed heavily on gold in the months that followed. This weakening sentiment was also reflected in managed money net positioning on COMEX, which oscillated between net long and net short in H2 2022. In Europe, y-t-d gold ETF demand remained positive until November, but ultimately ended 1% lower (-15t, US$943mn) y-o-y.2 The relative resilience of European ETF demand is likely due to closer proximity to the Russia-Ukraine war and deeper concerns over the outlook for the region’s economic growth.

Asian funds saw negative demand of US$1bn (21t), as a substantial fall in Chinese funds’ gold holdings was partially offset by demand for Japanese and Indian funds. Unlike North America and Europe, Asian funds did not see a surge of demand in the first few months of the year as higher local gold prices incentivised profit-taking. This was particularly evident in China, where investors adopted a more tactical approach throughout much of 2022. Funds in Other regions saw a fractional rise of 0.2t in holdings over the year.3

However, low-cost gold ETFs seemed to buck the trend. Collectively, they saw net demand of 48t during 2022.4

December highlights

Gold ETFs registered their eighth consecutive month of negative demand in December, with global holdings declining by 4t (US$534mn). But the pace of outflows/negative demand continued to slow, aided by a 3% increase in the gold price during the month.5

North American funds registered their first month of positive demand (9t, US$532mn) since April. However, this was the main bright spot as all other regions were negative. European funds saw -14t (US$1bn) of demand during the month. While the European Central Bank slowed the pace of its interest rate hikes in December, it stressed that interest rates would need to rise further in order to combat inflation. Asian funds registered a small increase (0.8t, US$45mn) in demand, while Other region funds were collectively down 0.2t (US$20mn).

2023 outlook

Going forward, gold’s performance will likely be driven by the interplay between inflation and central-bank intervention. A mixture of headwinds and tailwinds implies gold’s performance in the next twelve months could be similar to that of 2022: stable with a positive bias. But the outlook remains highly uncertain, leaving room for the possibility of more extreme outcomes.

Read our Gold Outlook 2023 for more details.



Gold ETF flows

Data as of

Demand captures changes in global/regional gold holdings; fund flows capture the net amount of money (in USD) that comes in or out of gold ETFs globally/regionally. See methodology note.

Regional flows 2022

ETF demand suffered in North America, Europe and Asia

  • North American funds saw outflows/negative demand of 75t (US$3bn, 4%)
  • European holdings declined by 15t (US$943mn, 1%)
  • Asian funds lost 21t (US$1bn, 15.2%)
  • Other region funds rose by 0.2t (US$49mn, 0.4%)

Individual fund flows 2022

SPDR® Gold Trust and iShares Gold Trust (US) dominated outflows over the year, followed by WisdomTree Physical Swiss Gold and WisdomTree Physical Gold (UK)

  • In North America, SPDR® Gold Trust saw holdings fall by 58t (-US$2bn, -6%), while iShares Gold Trust lost 42t
  • In Europe, UK-listed funds WisdomTree Physical Swiss Gold (-16t,-US$994mn, -26%) and WisdomTree Physical Gold (-14t, -US$767mn, -15%) registered the largest losses, while German-listed Xtrackers Physical Gold (-8t, US$477mn, -17%) and Xetra-Gold (-7t, US$315mn, -3%) also saw declines.
  • Asian outflows were led by Chinese funds: Bosera Gold (-10t, US$585mn, -40%), Huaan Yifu (8t, -US$471mn, -26%) and E Fund (-6t, -US$349mn, -43%) saw the biggest lost of holdings.

*Please note that as of January 2023, we have implemented a change to our gold ETF methodology which allows us to more accurately measure demand for these products. To find out more about this new approach, please see the ETF methodology note.


  1. We track gold ETF assets in two ways: the quantity of gold they hold, generally measured in tonnes; and the equivalent value of those holdings in US dollars (AUM). We also monitor how these fund assets change through time by looking at two key metrics: demand and fund flows.

    • Gold ETF demand is the change in gold holdings during a given period. We use this metric to calculate the quarterly demand estimates reported in Gold Demand Trends.
    • Fund flows represent the amount of money – reported in US dollars – that investors have put into (or retrieved from) a fund during a given period.

    For more details, see our ETF methodology note

  2. Though the tonnage demand change is negative, the fund flow – representing the amount of money (in USD) that investors have put into (or retrieved from) a fund during a given period – is positive owing a higher gold price at the time of inflows (compared to a lower gold price at the time of outflows) during the year. For more information, please see our ETF methodology note.

  3. ‘Other’ regions include Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

  4. Low-cost gold-backed ETFs are defined by the World Gold Council as exchange-traded open-ended funds listed in the US and Europe, backed by physical gold, with annual management fees and other expenses like FX costs of 20bps or less.

  5. Based on the LBMA Gold Price PM in USD.