Gold ETFs Losing Luster Quickly

Includes: GDX, GDXJ, GLD, IAU
by: Hard Assets Investor

By Cinthia Murphy

Gold ETFs such as the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:IAU) were bleeding value again Wednesday as gold prices fell to six-month lows.

The $67.5 billion GLD and the $8.7 billion IAU were each trading about 1.5% lower early in the session, extending losses that now have cost each of the funds roughly 5% of value in the past five days alone. What's more, GLD's price action has come accompanied by net outflows of $362 million, while IAU has lost some $146 million in the same one-week period.

But the bleeding isn't confined to physically backed funds. In fact, gold miner ETFs -- those that invest in the equities of companies mining and producing gold -- were sliding twice as fast. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX) was trading some 3% lower Wednesday, extending losses that are now amounting to nearly 10% in the past five days. Its smaller-cap counterpart, the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDXJ), has lost nearly 14% in the same period.

Comex gold prices, now trading below what many see as a key technical level of $1,600 an ounce -- the lowest readings since last summer -- continued to face selling pressure as the U.S. dollar gained ground. Behind the downward momentum in the yellow metal is no particular piece of news, but rather a consolidation of a stellar 2012 performance at a time when not only were investors racing for a safe haven, but central banks were buying gold at the fastest rates in some 50 years, analyst Sumit Roy said.

More recently, a changing attitude among investors -- who are now expanding their exposure to riskier assets as they express a sort of "worst is over" sentiment about the global economy -- has also pressured gold values. That's according to Nicholas Brooks, head of research and strategy for ETF Securities, in a note issued today. Indeed, last week alone, U.S. equities ETFs attracted net inflows of more than $870 million, with international equities gathering twice that amount, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.

Still, no one is calling for the end of a decade-plus-long rally in gold prices because, if nothing else, current lows are already enticing bargain-hunting buying. Albeit a test of the $1,500-an-ounce level is not out of the cards, Roy said. "While the technical picture has fueled the liquidation of gold holdings, macro fundamentals suggest a potentially attractive entry level, as global financial markets remain awash with liquidity, global interest rates expected to remain extremely low for the foreseeable future and key macro risks lingering, particularly for the eurozone economy," Brooks added in his note.