Commodities have been one of 2015’s worst-performing asset classes and that is reflected in investors’ treatment of commodities exchange traded products, a treatment that has primarily included ditching commodities funds.
The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) and the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL), were universally seen as vulnerable to higher interest rates prior to the Federal Reserve moving forward with such a policy earlier this month.
Gold futures and physically-backed ETFs have been pressure this year amid speculation the Federal Reserve is preparing to raise interest rates, which has pushed the dollar higher. Higher interest rates would diminish gold’s attractiveness since the precious metal does not pay interest like fixed-income assets. Investors have pulled $2.14 billion from GLD, the world’s largest gold ETF, this year. [Doubters in Gold Rally]
“A record $857 million was pulled this year from U.S. exchange-traded funds backed by broad baskets of everything from grains to metals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg through Dec. 23. The value of the funds plunged 26 percent as raw materials tumbled to a 16-year low. Hedge funds are expecting more losses, betting on price declines for gold, copper, corn and natural gas,” reports Luzi-Ann Javier for Bloomberg.
Investors have yanked $106.5 million from the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV), the largest exchange traded fund backed by physical holdings of silver. Investors have previously turned to silver exchange traded funds as an asset with a safe store of value and as a metal with wide industrial application in a growing economy. However, the precious metal is now suffering from a bad turn on both fronts.
One commodities ETF that has defied the outflows trend is the United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures. Although USO is down more than 42% this year, it has seen inflows of over $3.12 billion.