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Electric Vehicles Drive up Metals Demand

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Electric Vehicles Drive up Metals Demand


The Briefing

  • Gold ETF inflows in 2020 amounted to $47.9B (877.1t), more than doubling 2019’s inflows
  • This marks the fifth straight year of inflows into gold ETFs, almost doubling the previous record inflows in 2016 of $24.1B (541.1t)

Gold ETFs See Record Inflows in 2020

Gold had a strong year with 25% returns, and gold ETF inflows followed, reaching a new record high of $47.9 billion in 2020.

Gold-backed and gold ETFs have increasingly become a vital part of the gold investment market, making up around two-thirds of global net inflows for investment demand in the precious metal.

While gold set new all-time highs around $2,075/oz in 2020, gold ETF inflows ($47.5B) almost doubled the previous record-year of inflows (2016, $24.1B), and eclipsed 2013’s record year of outflows ($-41.6B).

Year Total Flows in Tonnes Total Flows in USD
2003 42.5t $0.1B
2004 125.4t $1.5B
2005 218.9t $3.3B
2006 260.2t $4.8B
2007 251.5t $5.6B
2008 311.0t $11.2B
2009 649.0t $19.3B
2010 388.6t $14.8B
2011 260.0t $11.8B
2012 251.9t $17.1B
2013 -887.1t $-41.6B
2014 -149.3t $-5.0B
2015 -129.3t $-3.5B
2016 541.1t $24.1B
2017 271.6t $9.8B
2018 70.1t $4.0B
2019 398.3t $19.1B
2020 877.1t $47.9B

Gold futures also saw increased participation in 2020, with aggregate open interest reaching yearly record-highs of $120.9B as investors and traders sought gold exposure.

North American Funds Represent Most Gold ETF Inflows

In terms of regionality, North American funds accounted for almost two-thirds of global net inflows from Q1-Q3’2020, reaching a total inflow of $31.9B for the year.

SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), the first U.S. gold ETF launched in 2004, made up the majority of North American inflows at $15.4B. Interestingly, this one ETF alone eclipsed Europe’s entire inflows for 2020 ($13.3B).

While Gold ETFs in Asia only reached $1.9B last year, their holdings saw the greatest percentage increase of all regions (49%) with seven new Chinese funds listed in 2020.

Gold ETFs are Driving Gold Investment Demand

Although flows turned negative in November ($-6.8B) and December ($-2.2B) of 2020, Gold ETF flows have returned positive for the first couple of weeks of 2021, with a $2.1B inflow as of Jan 15, 2021.

This return to positive ETF flows came as gold fell more than 5% from its $1,950 highs reached in early January. This could be a sign of gold ETF investors buying the dip, as gold potentially begins to turn upwards for the final two weeks of January.

Since gold ETFs make up such a large part of gold investment demand, keeping an eye on ETF flows can offer insight into where the precious metal might be headed.

»If you found this article interesting, you might enjoy this post on the ETFs: Visualizing the Expanse of the ETF Universe

Where does this data come from?

Source: World Gold Council
Details: The World Gold Council aggregates data from Bloomberg, ICE Benchmark Administration, and company filings.



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