ETF Trends
ETF Trends

After an unprecedented bull market that lasted over a decade, gold has spent the past years in the doldrums, sending exchange traded funds, such as the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), on two-year streaks of slack performance and lost assets.

It is still early in 2015, but things could be changing for GLD and rival gold ETFs. Even with Wednesday’s modest loss, GLD is up more than 8% this year and the ETF has added $1.23 billion in new assets, good for the second-best among all ETFs behind only the Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEArca: VOO). Last year, GLD fell 2% and shed $3.2 billion in assets. [Gold ETFs in Style Again]

There other signs that point to more upside for the yellow metal.

“Over the last week, physically backed gold ETPs experienced their largest daily inflow since January 2013 at just over 17 tonnes,” said State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) Vice President and Head of Research Dave Mazza in an email to ETF Trends. “Gold futures trading volumes last week were 52% higher than the average daily volume over the previous 100 days. Net-long positions on gold futures and options contracts increased by 27 percent from the previous week.”

SSgA is the sponsor of GLD, the world’s largest ETF backed by physical holdings of gold. Speculative investors bought gold for a fourth successive week at a “strong pace” upping long positions. Silver has also been bought for close to 12 weeks, but positioning remains “far from stretched”, according to data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, reports Jenny Cosgrave for CNBC.

Still, some big Wall Street banks are forecasting more downside for gold. On Monday, J.P. Morgan said it expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in June, which would be bearish for gold. The bank expects bullion to retreat to $1,180 per ounce by the third quarter, $100 below where it currently resides. Goldman Sachs also has a bearish view on gold for the third quarter and the bank lowered its 2016 estimate on the yellow metal to $1,089 per ounce, according to Barron’s. 

Those glums view run counter market participants’ recent treatment of gold. [Inflection Point for Gold ETFs]

“Gross longs are now at their highest since November 2012, while net positioning is at December 2012 highs,” adds Mazza. “The renewed interest in gold from comes as global central banks simultaneously release or maintain easy monetary policies in a fight against deflation. In addition, geopolitical instability in the euro-area stemming from the Greek anti-austerity party victory has increased the allure for the yellow metal.”

There is something to be said for global central banks sparking more upside for gold. While the Federal Reserve stopped quantitative easing several months ago and Wednesday’s FOMC minutes seemed to reaffirm a Fed rate hike is coming later this year, other central banks are moving in the opposite direction.

The Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank are committed to massive monetary stimulus programs while the Bank of Canada and several others have recently lowered interest rates.

Then there is the Swiss National Bank, which earlier this month shocked global markets by announcing it will scuttle the franc’s euro peg, an announcement that some believe will contribute to more upside for gold. [Swissie Surge Felt Across ETF Landscape]

SPDR Gold Shares

Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of GLD.