Top gold-ETF holdings fall back to Lehman levels

Down 7% since the US Federal Reserve seemed to draw a line underneath the global financial crisis last week, gold is on track to record the first back-to-back annual decline since 1998.

But rather than using the fall in the price of gold to levels last seen April 2010 to stock up on cheap metal, investors have continued to reduce their exposure.

Holdings of exchange traded funds backed by physical gold fell 3.7 tonnes to 1,643.4 tonnes yesterday, the lowest since August 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) – the world’s largest gold ETF holding more than 40% of the total – has been even harder hit with holdings falling to levels last seen September 2008.

The collapse of Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers that sparked the global financial crisis occurred September 15 that year and GLD investors would snap up 141 tonnes before the end of that month.

At the end of the trading day Tuesday, GLD holdings stood at 738.8 tonnes or 23.7 million ounces, down from more than 1,350 tonnes record reached in December 2012.

Gold bullion holdings in global ETFs hit a record 2,632 tonnes or 93 million ounces in December 2012, but last year saw net redemptions of 800 tonnes.

Across the industry the value of precious metals assets under management fell by an astonishing $78 billion last year.

Image by TheeErin