Gold ETF Flows: August 2023

Outflows continued in August



  • Global gold ETFs saw net outflows for the third consecutive month in August
  • North American funds bore the bulk of outflows while Europe’s loss notably reduced and Asia led inflows
  • Although collective holdings have shed 4% y-t-d, total assets under management (AUM) rose by 3% amid a higher gold price. 

August highlights

Physically-backed gold ETFs1 experienced net outflows for the third straight month, losing US$2.5bn in August.2 As a result, total AUM fell 3% to US$209bn whilst holdings dropped by 46t to 3,341t. 

During the month, the gold price declined by 1%, the weakest performance since February.3 And its weakness, especially during the first three weeks, was likely the main driver of the outflows in August. 

Y-t-d, global gold ETFs have seen net outflows of US$7.5bn, with European funds contributing the most. Collective holdings have lost 130t over that time.

Regional highlights

North America and Europe continued to see outflows while other regions registered inflows. 

The third consecutive monthly outflow from North American funds – of US$2.7bn (-44t) – was the largest since September 2022 (-US$3.2bn, -60t). As the US economy continues to defy recession expectations, with resilience in household consumption, the 10-year Treasury yield rose further.4 Fed Chair Powell’s remarks at Jackson Hole further firmed investors’ belief that rates are going to stay higher for longer, reducing gold’s allure as the opportunity cost climbs.5 In addition, asset managers’ net long positioning in 10-year Treasury futures rose to their multi-decade highs on bets of rates peaking and the most attractive yield in 16 years, diverting some attention away from gold. 

After August’s loss, y-t-d demand for North American funds turned negative, reversing inflows previously accumulated, amounting to US$2.1bn (-41t). As is typical, the largest funds saw the heaviest outflows.

European funds also extended their streak of outflows to three months. But August’s US$315mn (-8t) loss was far narrower than July’s US$1.3bn. And it is worth noting that 35% of the tonnage loss came from FX-hedged products as the local currency fluctuated.6 The rest can be largely attributed to rising interest rate expectations as the region’s inflation remained stubbornly high – the Bank of England delivered the 14th consecutive rate hike in August while European Central Bank President Lagarde recently reiterated the necessity of higher rates for longer.7 But we believe investors’ concerns over the region’s worsening economic conditions decelerated gold ETF outflows in the month.8 During the first eight months of 2023, European funds’ outflows amounted to US$5.8bn (-96t), mostly from the UK and Germany, the major source of global losses. 

In stark contrast, Asian funds have now witnessed inflows six months in a row, attracting US$430mn (+7t) in August and outperforming others. Chinese funds dominated inflows (+US$293mn, +5t) both regionally and globally as poor local equity market performance and the depreciating RMB drove investors to safer assets such as gold. Fund providers’ increasing promotional efforts during the month also helped. Y-t-d, Asia is the only region with positive flows of US$608mn (+9t), thanks to China and Japan. 

Fund flows in the Other region9 flipped back to positive, albeit mildly, adding US$24mn (+0.2t). South Africa and Turkey contributed the most. So far in 2023, demand for funds in Other region has remained negative at 3t (-US$140mn), South Africa and Australia accounted for the majority of the loss. 

Trading activity fell in August

The average gold trading volume declined by 18% m/m, to US$143bn/day in August. The weak gold price performance cooled volumes of exchange-traded contracts (-37% m/m), especially COMEX, which plunged by 41%. And while OTC gold trading activities saw a 6% decline compared to July, volumes of global gold ETFs climbed 18% m/m. 

As of 29 August, net longs in COMEX gold futures totalled 395t, 29% lower than the end-July level, mainly driven by money managers’ tactical positioning which moved with the gold price performance. Current total net longs are 25% below 2022’s average of 527t and 28% lower compared to the average level of the first seven months in 2023 (545t).


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

  • North America: once again, large US funds led global outflows – SPDR® Gold Shares lost US$1.4bn and iShares Gold Trust saw outflows of US$873mn
  • Europe: Amudi Physical Gold ETC from France (-US$120mn) and UK’s iShares Physical Gold ETC (-US$67mn) lost the most while Wisdom Tree Physical Gold EUR Daily Hedged witnessed the region’s largest inflows (+US$63mn)
  • Asia: China’s Hua’an Yifu Gold ETF (+US$171mn) and India’s ICICI Prudential Gold iWIN ETF (+US$104mn) attracted the largest inflows both regionally and globally
  • Other region: Turkey’s Istanbul Gold Exchange Traded Fund (+US$14mn) and Global X Physical Gold from Australia (+US$7mn) led the region’s inflows

Long-term trends

  • Global gold ETFs’ holdings at end-August fell to the lowest since March 2020 (3,178t), 15% down from the record high of 3,916t in October 2020
  • Holdings of funds in both North America and Europe also dropped to their lowest levels since March 2020
  • Low-cost gold ETFs’ August outflows (-US$383mn, -7t) narrowed considerably compared to July; y-t-d, their loss totalled US$2.2bn (-37t) 10 
  • Y-t-d, low-cost funds in the US saw net inflows of US$379mn (+6t) while Europe’s outflows accumulated to US$2.5bn (-42t)


  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. 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

  3. Based on LBMA Gold Price PM in USD.

  4. For more, see: ETF methodology note.

  5. The Other region includes Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

  6. 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.