Gold ETF Flows: September 2023

Outflows accelerated in September



  • September saw continued net outflows from global gold ETFs, extending their losing streak to four months 
  • Funds listed in North America led outflows followed by Europe while Asia continued to see inflows 
  • Overall, investors’ intensifying expectations of rates staying “higher for longer” drove disinvestment in western markets 
  • Y-t-d, holdings have declined by more than 5%, while total assets under management (AUM) are only 2% lower due to the mitigating effect of the higher gold price in 2023. 

September highlights

Physically-backed gold ETFs 1 saw another monthly outflow, losing US$3bn, equivalent to a 59t reduction in holdings by the end of September.2  Total AUM settled at US$198bn, further impacted by a nearly 4% reduction in the gold price, while collective holdings dropped 2% to 3,282t. September pushed Q3 losses in gold ETFs to US$8bn (-139t), with North America accounting for the vast majority (US$6bn). European funds also witnessed heavy outflows, while Asia captured notable inflows, adding 11% to holdings. 

Y-t-d, global outflows stand at US$11bn.3  And total holdings have fallen by 189t so far this year. European funds led global outflows and North America has now also seen sizable y-t-d losses. 

Regional highlights

North American funds have registered outflows four consecutive months now, losing US$2bn (-35t) in September. The combination of higher Treasury yields and a stronger dollar, which weighed on gold’s performance in the month, might have deterred investors from gold ETFs. Although the US Fed paused as expected during the month, it revised up projections of US economic growth and 2024’s median interest rate significantly.4  And this has intensified investor expectation that rates will stay higher for longer, dimming interest in gold. 

Another monthly loss brought y-t-d outflows from North American funds to over US$4bn (-76t), with the largest and most liquid funds losing the most. Losses were heaviest in August and September as North America shed a combined US$5bn (-79t); the worst of all regions.

Europe also witnessed a fourth consecutive monthly outflow. Regional gold ETFs suffered a loss of over US$1bn (-28t) during September – a month in which the European Central Bank delivered its tenth consecutive rate hike and reiterated that rates will stay “at sufficiently restrictive levels for as long as necessary”.5 And while the Bank of England paused hiking, policymakers kept the possibility of further tightening on the table; in response markets are forecasting a 70% chance of another hike by early 2024.6 The outlook of higher opportunity costs may have caused the region’s gold ETFs to unwind further. And FX-hedged products (-6t) continued to take up a portion of the loss as the local currency weakened.7 

During the third quarter the region’s gold ETFs lost US$3bn (-55t), second only to North America. And so far in 2023 outflows from European funds – mainly driven by the UK and Germany – totalled US$7bn (-124t). 

In contrast, Asian funds saw inflows for the seventh successive month, attracting US$299mn (+5t) in September. China continued to drive the region’s inflow amid increasing promotional efforts from fund providers, the surging local gold price and continued weakness in local assets. Y-t-d, Asia funds capped inflows of US$907mn while their collective holdings increased by 12% (+14t), with China and Japan contributing the most. The bulk of the inflows were registered in Q3 (+US$860mn, +13t). 

Activity in Other regions remained limited, virtually unchanged m/m in September and losing US$70mn (-2t) in Q3.8 Between January and September, the region’s outflows amounted to US$140mn (-3t), mainly driven by Australia and South Africa. 

Trading volumes rebounded mildly  

Gold trading volume averaged US$151bn/day in September, a mild improvement of 5% from August. While OTC (-2% m/m) trading activities fell, gold ETF (4% m/m) and exchange-traded contract volumes (21% m/m) rose, driving global gold market vitality. Recently, unseen volatilities in the Shanghai-London gold price premium may have spurred interest in gold futures from spread traders. 

As of 26 September, net long positioning in COMEX gold futures had fallen further to 350t, 11% lower than at the end of August.


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.

Long-term trends

  • Global gold ETFs’ holdings at end-September remain at the lowest level since March 2020 (3,178t), 16% down from the record high of 3,916t in October 2020
  • Holdings of funds in both North America and Europe also continue to be at their lowest levels since March 2020
  • Low-cost gold ETFs’ September outflows jumped m/m: funds in this category lost US$1bn (-23t); y-t-d, their loss totalled over US$3bn (-56t)9
  • Y-t-d, low-cost funds in the US (US$356mn, 5t) have seen net inflows, mitigating broader losses in the region.


  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. As of 30 September 2023.

  4. For more, see: Key ECB interest rates (

  5. For more, see: Bank of England holds interest rates at 5.25% | Financial Times (

  6. For more, see: ETF methodology note.

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

  8. 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.