Gold ETF Flows: May 2023

Gold ETF commentary: May inflows turn y-t-d gold ETF demand positive



  • Another month of inflows (+US$1.7bn, +19t) in May flipped global gold ETF y-t-d demand positive (+US$1bn, +6t) 
  • North American funds continued to dominate global inflows by attracting US$1.4bn 
  • SPDR® Gold Shares from the US and Invesco Physical Gold ETC from the UK led global inflows.     


May highlights

Global physically-backed gold ETFs1  continued to see positive flows in May, marking their third consecutive monthly inflow.2  Strong price momentum earlier in the month incited investors’ interests in gold ETFs before giving some back towards the end of May as the gold price pulled back. In addition, we believe that US debt ceiling negotiations and looming banking industry concerns also led investors to seek safe-haven assets, contributing to the positive trend in May.3  

Collective holdings of global gold ETFs reached 3,478t by the end of May, 19t higher m/m.4  However, total assets under management (AUM) fell slightly by 0.4% to US$220bn due to a lower gold price in the month compared to April. Nonetheless, May took y-t-d global gold ETF flows to positive territory at US$1bn, equivalent to a 6t increase in holdings 

Regional highlights

Almost all regions saw positive tonnage demand in May except for Europe. But fund flows in Europe remained above zero due mainly to the mechanics of the region’s FX-hedge products.

North American gold ETFs have now experienced net inflows for three consecutive months, adding US$1.4bn in May. In addition to the aforementioned drivers, a notable price rebound before the expiry date of major gold ETFs’ options might have also contributed, as sizable inflows occurred that day.5 Between January and May funds in North America accumulated net inflows of US$3.2bn (+47t), dominating global inflows

European funds ended May with positive fund flows (+US$228mn) but a reduction in gold holdings (-2t). This difference was mostly due to the mechanics of FX-hedged products in Switzerland and Germany,6  especially amid currency fluctuations related to US debt ceiling uncertainty. Positive fund flows during the month were concentrated in the UK and France. But stubbornly high inflationary pressure was a stark reminder to investors that central banks in the region are not yet done with hiking. The latter has been a vital factor supressing gold ETF demand in Europe so far in 2023.7  Y-t-d European funds have led global outflows, losing US$2.4bn, with UK and Germany funds suffering the most.

Asia saw mild net inflows last month (+US$9mn, +0.1t). Outflows from Chinese funds were offset by Japanese and Indian inflows. Y-t-d Asian fund flows remained slightly negative at US$27mn, chiefly due to China. 

Demand for funds listed in the Other region8  remained positive (+US25mn, +0.04t). Turkey, Australia and South Africa all contributed to the positive flow. Y-t-d sizable inflows into Turkish funds, driven by local political and economic uncertainty, pushed the Other region’s flows positive to US$197mn.

Trading volumes rebounded in May

Daily trading volumes in the global gold market rose by 3% to US$175bn in May, despite a mild decline in the gold price.9  This was mainly driven by a 26% m/m surge in trading volumes of exchange-traded derivatives. Meanwhile, trading activities in the OTC physical gold market and in gold ETFs fell by 9% and 11%, respectively. 

COMEX gold futures total net longs stood at 537t at the end of May, an 18% fall on April. The weaker gold price performance has led to tactical and shorter-term investors adjusting their futures positioning, contradicting trends in the physically-backed gold ETF market which often represents investors’ strategic moves. Even so, they remain 2% above the 2022 average of 527t. 


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.

Individual flows

  • In North America, SPDR® Gold Shares (+US$871mn, +13t) and SPDR® Gold MiniShares® (US$207mn, +3t) led inflows while iShares Gold Trust Micro (-US$32mn, -0.5t) lost the most
  • In Europe, UK’s Invesco Physical Gold ETC (+US$769mn, +12t) continued to dominate the region’s inflows; on the other hand, Gold Bullion Securities (-US$521mn, -8t) – also in the UK – and Invesco Physical Gold EUR Hedged ETC (-US$338mn, -6t) in Germany led outflows
  • In Asia, Japan Physical Gold ETF added US$38mn (+0.6t), topping others, while China’s Huaan Yifu Gold ETF (-US$31mn, -0.5t) saw the largest outflow 
  • In the Other region, Istanbul Gold Exchange Traded Fund (+US$13mn, +0.2t) once again led inflows.

Long-term trends

  • Continued inflows in recent months have pushed global gold ETF total holdings to the highest since October 2022, 11% lower than their record high of 3,919t in October 2020 
  • Total tonnage holdings of North American funds reached their highest since September 2022 
  • Following another net inflow during May (+US$1.6bn, +23t), low-cost gold ETF y-t-d flows also turned positive (+US$1.4bn, +17t), with European funds contributing the most.10 


  1. We define gold ETFs as regulated securities that hold gold in physical form. These include open-ended funds traded on regulated exchanges and other regulated products such as closed-end funds and mutual funds. A complete list is included on the gold ETF section of

  2. Based on the LBMA Gold Price PM in US dollars.

  3. 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.
  4. Monthly expiration of gold ETF options occurs on the third Friday of each month. When gold prices rebound before the expiration, it often elicits additional call options to be exercised creating primary activity in ETFs.
  5. The Other region includes Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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

  7. 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.