Gold price: ETF investors start 2017 with massive offload

Gold made the most of the first full trading day of the year, jumping to a three-week high, but investors in gold exchange traded funds continued to dump the metal in huge numbers.

Gold for delivery in February, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York, hit a high of $1,166 an ounce in late morning trade, before paring some of those gains to settle at the highest level since December 14.

Gold is up nearly $40 an ounce since hitting post-election lows of $1,124 mid-December, but remains down nearly $180 from an initial but brief surge on election night as results showed a likely victory for Donald Trump in the US presidential race.

Since the election investors in top physical gold-backed exchange traded fund – SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) – have dumped a net 135.8 tonnes. Since November 9, GLD has not enjoyed a single day of net purchases – on Tuesday, investors pulled out another 8.3 tonnes of the yellow metal.

GLD dwarfs other physically-backed gold ETFs holding more than 45% of the global total. GLD vaults now hold 813.5 tonnes or 26.2 million ounces; worth just over $30.1 billion. That's down more than $13 billion from the 2016 peak hit early July as the gold price retreats and investors liquidate their holdings.