After a turbulent first quarter that saw the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) experience a 12% peak-to-trough decline, the world’s largest exchange traded fund backed by physical gold holdings is bouncing back.
Buoyed by a spate of selling of the U.S. dollar, gold is climbing, lifting GLD to a gain of nearly 3% over the past week. Gold has also been strengthening after the U.S. dollar depreciated against a basket of foreign currencies – consumers and investors are able to acquire more dollar-denominated gold for less if the dollar currency weakens. Gold is also used as a safe store of wealth when inflationary pressures diminish the value of dollar. [Inflation Expectations Lift Gold ETFs]
Gold bugs will be heartened to know that bullion demand was stable in the first quarter, falling just 1%, according to the World Gold Council. In fact, while gold jewelry demand dipped in the first three months of the year, investment demand and central bank buying remained robust.
“Investment demand, the other key driver of the world’s gold market, rose 4% to 279t in Q1 2015, up from 268t in Q1 2014. There were net inflows of 26t into gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) – turning positive for the first time since Q4 2012 as western investor sentiment returned to gold. Investment in bars and coins came under pressure in the face of buoyant stock markets, notably in India and China, and currency fluctuations in Turkey and Japan, but this was offset by strong retail investor demand in the euro zone up 16% to 61t, most notably in Germany and Switzerland,” according to the World Gold Council.
Year-to-date, investors have added $843.3 million to GLD while inflows to the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) and the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL) are nearly $204 million on a combined basis. [Rising Chinese Demand Supporting Gold ETFs]
Central banks have been active buyers of bullion in recent years and are expected to purchase at least 400 tons of the yellow metal this year. Emerging markets central banks, including those in China and Russia, have been among the most active gold buyers.
“Central banks continued to be strong buyers, purchasing 119t in the quarter, the same volume as in Q1 2014. This was the 17th consecutive quarter that central banks have been net purchasers of gold as they continue to seek diversification away from the US dollar,” said the World Gold Council.
The first quarter was the 17th consecutive quarter in which global central banks have been net buyers of gold.