The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) and other gold-backed exchange traded products are up about 2% this year. More gains could be in store for the yellow metal if global central banks continue boosting bullion purchases.
Gold has enjoyed greater demand in a low interest-rate environment as the hard asset becomes more attractive to investors compared to yield-bearing assets. However, traders lose interest in gold when rates rise since the bullion does not produce a yield. Interest rates remain low in many developed markets and some emerging markets have been rapidly lowering borrowing costs since last year.
One central bank that is clearly upping gold purchases is Russia’s central bank.
“The Bank of Russia in January increased its holdings by almost 20 metric tons to 1,857 tons, topping the People’s Bank of China’s reported 1,843 tons. While Russia has increased its holdings every month since March 2015, China last reported buying gold in October 2016,” reports Bloomberg.
Over the past 20 years, gold has outperformed alternative and traditional assets, such as developed market stocks, hedge funds, developed markets debt, global real estate investments and the broader commodities complex.