Monthly ETF Fund Flows
Dec. ETF Flows: Investors Dumped GLD
January 04, 2012
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Investors scurried out of gold in the final month of 2011, as the yellow metal corrected downward and appetite for riskier assets such as equities grew amid growing views the United States might be the best option in a world plagued by uncertainty. Overall, net flows into ETFs were $17 billion, though assets edged down to $1.062 trillion, largely because of commodities price declines and outflows.
The $2.25 billion in redemptions from SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), the world's biggest physical gold ETF, followed inflows of $3.13 billion into GLD in November—a month full of fears about Europe that led to negative ETF flows for the first time since May.
There was still plenty of uncertainty in the air last month, as movement of assets into the relative safety of fixed-income funds clearly showed. That said, the presence of two large junk bond ETFs among last month's most popular ETFs also suggested an increase in risk appetite to the extent that high-yield credits are considered the equities of the fixed-income world.
As it stands, many analysts are looking to the United States as something akin to the "best of the worst," as Europe's debt crisis festers and as growth in the emerging markets appears for now to be slowing. A string of improved U.S. economic reports, notably declines in numbers of first-time applicants for unemployment claims, helped fortify the sense of relative U.S. strength in the final month of the year.
GLD ended December with $63.48 billion in assets, down from almost $73 billion at the end of November. The price of gold fell about 10 percent in December, though it ended the year, coincidentally, 10 percent higher.
The gyrations in gold prices included a record high in late August just shy of $1,900 a troy ounce brought on by all the uncertainty created when Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. debt for the first time.
But Europe's sovereign debt crisis soon became the bigger story to worry about, and investors actually began dumping gold in favor of U.S. Treasurys—clearly one of the more surprising developments of the whole year.