Gold ETF Flows: October 2023

Gold ETF commentary: Net outflows narrowed in October



  • Global gold ETF outflows continued in October but at a slower pace than September 
  • Rising yields drove outflows from Western funds, led by North America, while Asia and other regions experienced a positive month 
  • An incipient positive trend, however, started to form at the end of October most visibly in Europe
  • Y-t-d, global gold ETF holdings have dropped by 6%, but total assets under management (AUM) have risen 3% thanks to the strong gold price performance. 

October highlights

Outflows from physically-backed gold ETFs1 totalled US$2bn in October, the fifth consecutive monthly loss.2 Collective holdings reduced by 37t to 3,245t. but total AUM increased by 6% to US$209bn thanks to a 7% rise in the gold price during the month.3 And October’s gold price surge, mainly driven by geopolitical uncertainties, was the strongest since last November. 

Y-t-d, global outflows summed to US$13bn, equivalent to a 225t fall in holdings. The majority of this loss comes from European funds, with North America the other major contributor. 

Regional highlights

North American funds continued to unwind in October for the fifth successive month. And the US$2bn (28t) loss was the heaviest of all regions. Surging Treasury yields, the opportunity cost of holding gold, early October overshadowed safe-haven demand from geopolitical risk and equity volatility later in the month. With the economy performing surprisingly well and inflation remaining sticky, the 10-year US Treasury yield touched 5% during the month –the first time since July 2007. On a positive note, the rally in the gold price leading up to the expiry of major gold ETF options on 20 October triggered sizable inflows, partially curbing the region’s loss.4 

During the first ten months North American funds lost US$6bn (104t), treading on the heels of Europe. Rocketing Treasury yields have been driving outflows throughout the year. The recent five-month-losing streak accumulated outflows of US$9bn, significantly outpacing the US$3bn inflow between January and May. 

European funds also saw outflows for the fifth straight month, losing US$622mn (11t) in October yet improving significantly over September. We believe stabilising yields, as the European Central Bank (ECB) paused its ten-month rate hiking spree and the region’s inflationary pressure continued to slide, geopolitical risks and the rising gold price helped limit losses.

Nonetheless, the ECB stressed the “higher for longer” narrative and called discussions of rate cuts “too premature”, leaving yields hovering around their highest since mid-2011.5 And elevated opportunity costs to hold gold in the region were likely the main driver of October’s outflows. However, there were signs of a shifting trends towards the end of the month. Germany saw the heaviest outflow in the region.

October brings y-t-d losses from European funds to US$8bn (135t), mainly driven by rising local interest rates this year, outpacing other regions. UK and Germany led the region’s outflows during the first ten months. 

Asia registered another inflow in October – albeit only a small increase at US$81mn (1t) – marking the eighth consecutive positive month. Japan and India contributed. Between January and October Asia funds attracted US$1bn (+15t), the only region experiencing positive flows, mainly driven by China and Japan. 

The Other region also capped an inflow of US$58mn (1t) in the month, mainly from Turkey.6  Y-t-d, funds in the region witnessed a minor loss of US$83mn (2t), as outflows from Australia and South Africa outweighed Turkish inflows.

Trading volumes bounced higher 

The average daily trading volume across global gold markets rose to US$169bn/day in October, a 13% increase m/m. All market segments saw improved activity in the month amid rising safe-haven demand and the strong gold price performance. OTC trading activities saw a 11% m/m rebound and volumes of gold ETFs increased by 51%. Trading volumes of exchange-traded contracts were also 16% higher. 

By the end of October gold futures net longs at the COMEX totalled 533t, 52% higher than September. And money manager net longs rose by 220t to 331t, a notable improvement compared to early October when they fell below zero.


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

  • Following another reduction in October, losses in global gold ETF holdings amounted to 225t during the first ten months of the year, the second largest in history – 2013’s 791t accumulative decline was the worst 
  • By the end of the month, collective holdings of global gold ETFs stood at their lowest since March 2020 and 17% away from the historical high of 3,916t recorded in October 2020 
  • In October, weakness in low-cost gold ETFs extended for the fifth consecutive month, collectively shedding US$1bn (17t), led by European funds (-US$818mn, -14t).8 
  • Y-t-d outflows across global low-cost funds piled to US$5bn (80t). During the period, low-cost funds in North America saw inflows of US$114mn (1t), while Europe accumulated net outflows of US$5bn (81t).


  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.

  3. Based on the LBMA Gold Price PM.

  4. Options expiry: We refer to regular monthly expiration of ETF options on the third Friday of each month, which generally have the most significant open interest. When gold prices rally into a major options expiration, it often elicits additional call options to be exercised creating primary activity in the ETFs.

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

  6. LBMA data is as of 27 October due to updating schedules