Silver ETFs' Popularity Provides Stark Contrast To Gold Fallout

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 |  Includes: AGOL, AGQ, DBS, DGL, DGLD, DGP, DGZ, DSLV, DZZ, GLD, GLDI, GLL, IAU, PHYS, SGOL, SIVR, SLV, SLVO, TBAR, UBG, UGL, UGLD, USLV, USV, ZSL
by: Tom Lydon

Precious metals got clobbered this year, but investors still trickled into silver exchange traded funds while gold funds saw a record exodus.

Physically backed silver ETFs held 655 million ounces of the metal as of Oct. 31, up 25 million ounces since January, reports Nat Rudarakanchana for International Business Times.

"This contrasts sharply with the liquidation we've seen on the gold side, through 2013," Michael DiRienzo, executive director of silver trade body the Silver Institute, said in the article.

Specifically, physical holdings in gold ETFs shrunk by 806 metric tons in 2013.

"On the investment side, at least for ETFs … there's a strong appreciation for silver, even at these prices," DiRienzo added.

For instance, the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEARCA:SLV), which holds silver bullion to provide exposure to changes in silver prices, has attracted $261.7 million in assets year-to-date. In contrast, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA:GLD), which holds gold bullion, saw outflows $23.6 billion in assets so far this year.

David Franklin, a market strategist with Sprott Asset Management, points to silver's relative affordability and industrial usage as factors that has helped bolster silver demand.

Silver is used in consumer electronics, medical equipment and industrial catalysts. According to the CPM Group, industrial demand should reach 838 million ounces, up about 3% year-over-year.

Investment demand for silver, on the other hand, accounts for 24% of overall demand, up from about 4%in 2003 after the introduction of ETFs as a liquid trading source. Additionally, silver investors typically include small investors, whereas large institutional investors have steered toward gold ETFs.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Disclosure: I am long GLD, SLV. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.