Saturday, July 20, 2024

ETF Gold Holdings Increase Globally for Second Straight Month

(Mike Maharrey, Money Metals News Service) Gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) reported net inflows of gold for the second straight month in June.

With European funds leading the way, net gold holdings by ETFs globally increased by 17.5 tons last month. 

May was the first month of positive flows into ETFs in 12 months. 

ETFs globally hold 3,105.5 tons of gold. 

Assets under management (AUM) by gold-backed ETFs stand at $233.3 billion. This was a modest decrease from May due to a slight month-on-month dip in gold prices

European funds charted the biggest inflows of gold, increasing collective holdings by 17.9 tons. 

Interest rate cuts by the European Central Bank (ECB) along with political uncertainty helped drive higher gold investment in the region, according to the World Gold Council.

“Lowering yields were a key contributor to the region’s inflows. Additionally, falling equities and political uncertainties related to elections in the UK and France, which sparked notable inflows there, also pushed up investor interest in gold.”

Asian ETFs increased their collective gold holdings by 7.2 tons in June. It was the 16th straight month of increased gold holdings by Asian funds. It is the only region with positive gold inflows for the year, indicative of the movement of gold from the West to the East

China was the primary driver of Asian inflows, with Chinese funds adding $429 million of gold in June. Japanese funds also reported strong inflows. Weakening currencies in both countries are helping drive gold investment.

Collective Asian fund gold holdings increased by 41 tons through H1, increasing AUM by $3.1 billion. It was the largest dollar increase in Asian ETF gold holdings on record.   

The combination of record-breaking inflows and a higher gold price drove the total AUM of Asian funds to $14 billion, also the highest ever. 

Gold flowed out of funds based in North America last month to the tune of 8.2 tons. About $4.9 billion in gold flowed out of North American ETFs through the first half of the year. However, AUM increased by 7.7 percent during H1 thanks to a 13 percent rise in the price of gold. 

According to the World Gold Council, “Dollar strength and the continued equity rally may have drawn investor attention away from gold despite falling Treasury yields. Nonetheless, flare-ups in geopolitical risk prompted sporadic inflows, partially offsetting larger outflows during the month.”

Funds in other regions, including Australia, increased by 0.7 tons in June.

Inflows of gold into ETFs can have a significant impact on the global gold market by pushing overall demand higher.

ETFs are a convenient way for investors to play the gold market, but owning ETF shares is not the same as holding physical gold.

A gold ETF is backed by a trust company that holds metal owned and stored by the trust. In most cases, investing in an ETF does not entitle you to any amount of physical gold. You own a share of the ETF, not gold itself.

ETFs are relatively liquid. You can buy or sell an ETF with a couple of mouse clicks. You don’t have to worry about transporting or storing metal. In a nutshell, it allows investors to play the gold market without buying full ounces of metal at the spot price. 

Since you are just buying a number in a computer, you can easily trade your ETF shares for another stock or cash whenever you want, even multiple times on the same day. Many speculative investors take advantage of this liquidity.

But while a gold ETF is a convenient way to play the price of gold on the market, you don’t actually possess any gold. You have paper. And you don’t know for sure that the fund has all the gold either, especially when the fund sees inflows. In such a scenario, there have been difficulties or delays in obtaining physical metal.

Mike Maharrey is a journalist and market analyst for MoneyMetals.com with over a decade of experience in precious metals. He holds a BS in accounting from the University of Kentucky and a BA in journalism from the University of South Florida.

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