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WGC Gold ETF CommentaryFlows turned positive in May 2024

May 2024 in review  

Physically backed gold ETFs saw their first monthly inflow since last May, amounting to US$529mn.

 

 A stronger gold price (+2%) and inflows  pushed gold ETFs’ total assets under management (AUM) 2% higher to  US$234bn, the highest since April 2022. And with improved gold ETF demand in May, collective holdings rebounded to 3,088t, but remaining -8.2% below the 2023 average (3,363t).  

 

European and Asian funds drove global inflows. While May marks Asia’s 15th consecutive monthly inflow, Europe recorded their first positive flow since last May. Meanwhile, North American fund flows turned negative again, albeit only slightly.  


Highlights 

·       Global gold ETFs saw inflows in May, ending their twelve-month losing streak.  

·       Europe and Asia led global inflows while North America and other regions registered mild losses.  

·       Global gold ETF holdings rose to 3,088t by the month end. Driven  by inflows and a higher gold price

May 2024 regional overview 

North America

Flows in North America flipped back to negative in May     (US$139mn) following two consecutive monthly inflows. But compared to the region’s outflows in prior months the negative May figure was the smallest since December 2019. 

 

 The gold price rally leading up to the expiry date of major gold ETF options triggered exercises of in-the-money (ITM) calls linked to derivatives strategies, resulting in net share creations and bringing sizable inflows.

 Investor interest appeared to be drawn to spikes in geopolitical risks as sporadic gold ETF inflows coincided with upticks in the Geopolitical Risk Index. During the remainder of the month gold ETF flows fluctuated with the gold price; for instance, hawkish Fed minutes from its latest meeting weighed on the gold price towards the end of May, leading to outflows in the region. Furthermore, the rallying equity market may also have diverted investor attention away from gold. 

 

May widened North America’s y-t-d outflows to US$4.3bn, second only to Europe, mainly from large funds during January and February. But thanks to the gold price strength, the region’s total AUM climbed further to US$119bn.  Meanwhile, collective holdings fell to 1,573t, -8% below the 2023 average of 1,701t.  

 

 

Europe

Europe experienced inflows in May (+US$287mn), putting a stop to its twelve-month losing streak. The region experienced a tale of two policies. Inflows were mainly driven by expectations that the ECB would cut rates in early June, as primarily reflected in Swiss and German funds:

May marks the second occasion this year that Germany has experienced inflows, and the first time Switzerland has recorded inflows since July 2023. However, an earlier-than-expected UK election paired with stickier-than-anticipated inflation pushed back investor expectations for rate cuts by the Bank of England. As a result, UK-listed funds dominated outflows (- US$150mn) over the course of the month.  

 

Gold trading volumes remain elevated

The average trading volume across global gold markets stood at US$216bn per day in May, 13% lower than April. But overall, volumes across markets remained well above the 2023 average of US$163bn/day.

Trading activities at key exchanges fell by 19%: while volumes at the COMEX remained stable, a more significant drop at Shanghai Futures Exchange (-45%) and Shanghai Gold Exchange (- 36%) were the main contributors. Gold ETF trading volumes also fell across major markets, averaging a 39% m/m decline globally. OTC physical gold trading activities held up, only shedding 6% m/m, based on the most recent information. 




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