Gold ETFs Shrug Off Outflows, Reach Record Highs

ETFs tracking the price of gold rise despite large outflows.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
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Edited by: Kent Thune

The price of gold crossed its all-time high on Tuesday, pushing gold ETFs higher. Touching nearly $2,140 in morning trading, the price of an ounce of gold surpassed its previous high of $2,135 set in intra-day trading on Dec. 4. 

The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust (IAU) were last trading with gains of 3% on a year-to-date basis. 

While a far cry from the returns that spot bitcoin ETFs are delivering this year—the iShares Bitcoin ETF (IBIT) is up more than 40% as BTC's price crossed its all-time high of $69,000 Tuesday morning—contrary to popular belief, bitcoin’s gain doesn’t necessarily have to translate to pain for gold.  

That’s because, as I noted in a recent article, the drivers of gold demand are very different than the drivers of bitcoin demand. 

For example, in 2023, only about 20% of gold’s demand came from investors; the other 80% came from other sources, such as central banks. The central banks of China and Poland were among the largest buyers of gold in 2023, while gold ETFs were net sellers during the year.

Thus, despite the lack of ETF investor interest in the precious metal, gold’s price hit its previous record of $2,135 in December and crossed its all-time high this week as other consumers, including buyers of physical bars and coins, compensated for the selling by gold ETF investors.

Gold Price Can Still Rise Amid ETF Outflows

The fact that gold's price hit an all-time high as bitcoin prices go parabolic is testament to gold’s strength. It’s also why investors shouldn’t read too much into the outflows from gold ETFs this year. 

Since the start of 2024, over $4.5 billion has come out of U.S.-listed gold ETFs, which some have attributed to investors swapping gold ETFs for bitcoin ETFs. 

While it may be the case that some investors have done just that, it’s unlikely that there has been widescale selling of gold ETFs in exchange for bitcoin ETFs

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.