An obvious though still impressive beneficiary of gold’s resurgence this year is the gold mining industry and its corresponding exchange traded funds. That includes the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX), the largest and most heavily traded gold miners ETF.
GDX is up 50% year-to-date. Not only is that good for one of the best performances among non-leveraged ETFs, it also puts GDX up nearly three times as much as ETFs that hold physical gold. That does not mean GDX and rival gold miners ETFs are perfect investments, not when the industry still faces headwinds.
Strategists point out that costs keep rising, which has narrowed profit margins among gold miners. Recent mine closures have not improved margins. Current mining operations are also facing deteriorating ore grades. The recent decline in energy prices and depreciating currencies where local miners operate have also had minimal beneficial impact on cash costs.
Gold is seeing greater support from safe-haven demand after currency devaluations across Asia added to investment demand for a better store of value than paper currencies or stocks and bonds.
Gold assets look more attractive in a low interest rate environment as the precious metal is more competitive against assets that pay low interest, like bonds. Additionally, if the Fed holds off on further rate hikes, it would suggests the economy is not as strong, which would also help gold attract safe-haven demand.