Global gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and similar products had $19.2 billion or 400 tonnes of net inflows in 2019 after holdings rebounded in December, the World Gold Council (WGC) reports. In the fourth quarter, ETF holdings reached an all-time high of 2,900 tonnes.
Overall, gold-backed assets under management (AUM) grew by 37% in dollar terms during the year owing to positive demand and an 18.4% increase in the gold price.
From a regional perspective, North American funds led the way with inflows of 206 tonnes ($10.1 billion, 14.4% AUM). SPDR Gold Shares — the world’s biggest gold ETF — and iShares Gold Trust accounted for nearly half of last year’s inflows.
Low-cost gold-backed ETFs in the US have seen positive flows for 18 of the past 19 months and increased their collective holdings by 60%, according to the latest WGC data.
Elsewhere, holdings in European funds increased by 188 tonnes ($8.8 billion, 13.6%), while funds listed in Asia were nearly flat, recording an outflow of 0.1 tonnes ($12 million, 0.3%). The remaining regions had combined inflows of 6.3 tonnes ($311 million, 16.3%).
Looking ahead, WGC analysts said that they expect investor demand to remain robust through 2020.
“The strength of gold was mainly the byproduct of a dovish shift in monetary policy. Our research indicates that a shift from a hawkish or neutral stance to a dovish one has historically led gold to outperform,” a WGC analyst said.