Gold price nears $1,800 on ETF frenzy

Pigging out on bullion. Image by Camil Tulcan

The rally in the gold price gained fresh momentum on Tuesday as investors piled into physically-backed gold ETFs to secure hard assets amid expectations of continued global ultra-low or negative interest rates and currency debasement.

Gold for delivery in August, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York, touched a high of $1,786.10 an ounce, the highest since October 2012 and up 17% so far this year.

The last time gold traded above $1,800 an ounce was September 2011, but it ended that year at $1,565 an ounce.

WGC reported that Friday saw 27.3 tonnes (974,000 ounces worth more than $1.7 billion at today’s prices) inflow into gold-backed ETFs

The World Gold Council reported that Friday saw a massive 27.3 tonnes (974,000 ounces worth more than $1.7 billion at today’s prices) inflow into gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The world’s largest gold ETF – SPDR Gold Shares or GLD – received the lion’s share with Friday inflows of 23.1 tonnes or 742,492 ounces, coinciding with the expiry of June GLD options.

On Monday GLD hauled in another 6.7 tonnes, or more than 216,000 ounces, bringing total holdings to 1,166 tonnes (37.5m ounces) worth $66 billion, the highest since April and February 2013, respectively.

Rock beat paper, briefly

While launched a full 18 months after the first physically backed gold ETF was created in Australia, GLD quickly dominated the market.

GLD was listed on November 18 2004 and saw 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 $273 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.

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