2016 already best year ever for world's largest gold ETF
Once the largest fund of its kind in the world, top physical gold-backed exchange traded fund – SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) – is having a rip-roaring first half of 2016.
After suffering through three years of a declining gold price and investors liquidating positions built up during the metal's bull run, this year the fund's assets under management have swelled by $18.5 billion year to date.
GLD dwarfs other physically-backed exchange traded gold products holding 48.8% of the global total as of today at 950 tonnes or 30.5m ounces worth $40.3 billion. GLD's holdings have shot up by 308 tonnes this year to the highest since July 2013.
The rise in assets under management in 2016 is a better performance than the banner years of 2009 and 2010 when investors caught in the global financial crisis and spooked by quantitative easing piled into GLD.
Stripping out the appreciation in the gold price, 2016 inflows into GLD is over $10 billion also surpassing 2009's tally. Investors actually pulled money out of GLD in 2011 although assets under management grew as a result of the peaking gold price.
Number one for a day (or two)
Gold ETFs were credited for a big portion of gold's uninterrupted 12-year bull run, because ETFs make it so easy to invest in the yellow metal. (And to cash out as gold's 2013 annus horribilis so clearly showed.)
While launched a full 18 months after the first physically backed gold ETF was created in Australia, GLD quickly dominated the market.
On August 22, 2011 when gold was hitting record highs above $1,900 GLD became the largest ETF in the world briefly surpassing the venerable SPDR S&P 500 trust
GLD was listed on 18 November 2004 and enjoyed a pretty good first day. Investors bought just over 8 tonnes or 260,000 ounces of gold affording the fund a net asset value of $115 million.
A mere two days later it would cross the $1 billion mark and by the time Thanksgiving arrived the following week gold bugs had snapped up more than 100 tonnes. The 1,000 tonne market would be crossed in February 2009.
On August 22, 2011 when gold was hitting record highs above $1,900 an ounce GLD became the largest ETF in the world briefly surpassing the venerable SPDR S&P 500 trust (assets today $174 billion) at a net asset value of $77.5 billion.
Gold holdings in the trust would peak more than a year later in December 2012 at 1,353 tonnes or 43.5 million ounces. Global ETFs hit a record 2,632 tonnes or 93 million ounces of gold at the time.
All of that came crashing down in 2013 as the gold price plummeted and investors pulled 552 tonnes from the fund. The extent of the panic was evident by the fact that GLD had only 17 days of inflows during the entire year.
Nevertheless, those who got in on the GLD ground floor are still enjoying returns 135%. If you put your money into the S&P 500 in November 2004 you'd be worth 77% more today.