June 20, 2024

Why Have SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) Holdings Dropped As Gold Soars?

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) reported that holdings of gold bullion remained unchanged from the previous week, after dropping by 39.67 tonnes for the week ending August 24th.

On a year to date basis, GLD gold holdings have declined by 48.41 tonnes as the price of gold has increased by $425 (30.6%) from the first of the year.  Why would the GLD show a decline in gold holdings as the price of gold has soared?   Even more interesting, the GLD reached a record high of gold holdings on June 29, 2010 when it held 1,320.47 tonnes and gold was selling at $1,234.50.  From June 29, 2010, while gold has soared by $579 per ounce, the GLD has actually seen a decline in gold holdings of 88.16 tonnes.

The decline of gold holdings by the GLD as the price of gold bullion has skyrocketed indicates that investor preference for gold investment has diversified.  The demand for physical gold has soared as the world financial system becomes more precarious with each passing day.  Confidence in paper assets is becoming more fragile as hapless central banks desperately print money and drive rates to zero in a futile attempt to restore economic growth.  Investors looking for the ultimate safe haven feel more comfortable  holding physical gold.

There have been questions raised about  the safe keeping and even the existence of the gold held by the GLD.  Although these concerns appear to be unwarranted, the financial panic of 2008 blatantly exposed the fact that even institutions considered to be rock solid wound up failing.  (Also see GATA dispatch – How exchange traded fund GLD lets you pretend to own gold).

The SPDR website stresses that the gold with the SPDR Trust is deposited in an allocated account.  According to the SPDR Gold Trust,  “An allocated account is an account with a bullion dealer, which may also be a bank, to which individually identified gold bars owned by the account holder are credited.  The account holder has full ownership of the gold bars and, except as instructed by the account holder, the bullion dealer may not trade, lease or lend the bars.”

Another reason why the GLD gold holdings have not expanded is competition from numerous other gold trusts such as the Sprott Physical Gold Trust which has advantages over the SPDR Gold Trust.

In addition, the shares of many gold mining companies are selling at extreme discounts and investors may be moving funds from gold trusts such as the GLD into mining shares (see Gold Shares Are Positioned For Explosive Move Up).

The GLD currently holds 39.6 million ounces of gold valued at $71.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the case for holding gold grows stronger as concerns about the stability of the world financial system continue to increase.

The Wall Street Journal disclosed today that Goldman Sachs, in a confidential report, estimates that European banks will need as much as $1 trillion in additional capital and that the current situation in world markets is similar to those that preceded the 2008 financial panic.

According to the Wall Street Journal, strategist Alan Brazil of Goldman told clients “Here we go again.  Solving a debt problem with more debt has not solved the underlying problem. In the US, Treasury debt growth financed the US consumer but has not had enough of an impact on job growth. Can the US continue to depreciate the world’s base currency?”

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

August 31-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,232.31 00.00 -48.41
SLV 9,836.18 -89.38 -1,174.77

Holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) dropped by 89.38 tonnes this week after increasing by 109.08 tonnes for the week ending August 24th.  The SLV currently holds 313.4 million ounces of silver valued at $13 billion.


Gold ETF Holdings Hit All Time High As Silver ETF Holdings Decline

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) added 10.22 tonnes of gold since last week as gold prices continue to surge higher.  The GLD now has a net gain in gold holdings of 15.80 tonnes since the first of the year.  The all time high holdings of the Gold Shares Trust was 1320.47 tonnes reached on June 29, 2010.

The value of the GLD during August has increased by 12.1% to $73.9 billion on high volume.  During July, the highest volume day for the GDL was on July 13th when 25.2 million shares traded.  On August 8th, 9th and 10th, volume on the GLD exceeded 40 million shares.  On previous occasions when trading volume in the GLD surged, gold prices either pulled back slightly or consolidated in sideways trading before continuing higher.

All of the fundamental factors that have been pushing gold prices higher for the past decade are now being amplified by a looming currency collapse and sovereign debt crises.  Adding to concerns is the apparent inability of central banks and governments to contain the rapidly expanding financial crisis.

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, gold started the year at $1388.50 and closed Wednesday in New York trading at $1796.50, up $51.30.  Gold has gained $407.90 or 29.4% since the first of the year.

Total holdings of all gold ETFs recently reached a record of 2,276 tonnes of gold, valued at $130 billion.  The GLD currently holds 41.7 million ounces of gold valued at $73.9 billion.



The GLD hit a new all time high in Wednesday trading, closing at $174.58, up $5.97.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

August 10-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,296.52 +10.22 +15.80
SLV 9,772.56 -86.36 -1,149.01

Holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined by 86.36 tonnes on the week but have gained 236.41 tonnes since July 1st when silver prices began rallying.

Silver prices have not kept pace with the increase in gold prices as investors worry about reduced industrial demand for silver in a severe economic downturn.  Silver closed Wednesday at $39.39, up $1.58.  Silver began the year at $30.67 and is now up by $8.72 on the year returning investors a gain of 28.4%.

The SLV peaked in late April at the $50 level before prices corrected to the low 30’s.  The SLV has had an average annualized total return of 25% over the past three years.

The iShares Silver Trust currently holds 314.2 million ounces of silver valued at $12 billion.



As the world economy marches off the edge of the cliff and many wonder why, we look back at some prophetic  thoughts from Bill Murphy, co-founder of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) in an interview with The Motley Fool in June 2010.

“What’s important for your readership to understand is that the markets have been made dysfunctional by U.S. policy and what these bullion banks are doing. Even Alan Greenspan said recently that interest rates were left too low for too long. Had the gold price been allowed to trade freely, interest rates wouldn’t have been able to stay down as low as they were. It would have been a warning sign for people not to get involved in the behavior that they did … not to go with all of the risks that developed. And there’s a good likelihood that the disaster would have been nowhere near as bad as it was.

“Alan Greenspan called gold a “thermometer.” So they diffused the thermometer by keeping the gold price managed. And what’s important for people to understand now is that the same thing is going on. If we’re correct, it’s going to lead to a bigger catastrophe, because no one has learned any lessons.”



Gold and Silver ETF Holdings Increase As Precious Metals Rally

Holdings of the SPDR  Gold Shares Trust (GLD) gained 20.60 tonnes on the week after increasing by 19.60 tonnes in the previous week.

Gold has been in a steady uptrend during July as the debt crises in Europe and the United States continue to expand.  As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold has gained $103 since July lst.  Gold has gained $197.50 per ounce since the first of the year when the price was $1,388.50.

Since July lst, total gold holdings of the GLD have increased by 40.21 tonnes and the value of the trust has increased by $6 billion to $63.5 billion.  At July 20, the Gold Trust held 40.1 million ounces of gold bullion, up from 38.8 million ounces on the lst of July.

Shares of the GLD hit an all time high this week along with the price of gold.



The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) increased its holdings by 169.76 on the week after a gain of 101.55 tonnes in the previous week.   Silver holdings of the trust since the beginning of the year have declined by 1,178.86 tonnes when the Trust held 10,921.57 tonnes.  The record holdings of the SLV occurred on April 25th when the Trust held 11,390.06 tonnes.

Silver has surged in price along with gold since the beginning of July.  Based on the closing London PM Fix Price, silver has increased from $33.85 on July 1st to $38.59 at the July 20th close, for a gain of $4.74 or 14.0%.

The SLV Trust currently holds 315.2 million ounces of silver valued at $12.2 billion.  As of July 20th, the net asset value of the Trust was $37.61 according to the Trust’s website.  The price of the SLV closed on July 20th at $39.12 or a 4% premium to the Trust’s net asset value.  The current premium of the SLV to the Trust’s net asset value is higher than usual, reflecting investor demand for the SLV.  The all time high premium on the SLV to the underlying net assets of the Trust occurred on April 27, 2011 at 6.3%.

iShares Premium/Discount - courtesy us.ishares.com

Precious metals have advanced strongly after suggestions by the Federal Reserve that it might initiate another round of quantitative easing if economic conditions continue to deteriorate.  Meanwhile, the debt crisis in Europe continues to expand with many believing that the only “solution” is to imitate the U.S. Central Bank and print money.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

July 20-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,246.01 +20.60 -34.70
SLV 9,803.71 +169.76 -1,117.86


Gold and Silver ETF Holdings Increase As Precious Metals Explode Higher

The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) showed a gain in holdings of 101.55 tonnes on the week after declining by a modest 48.21 tonnes in the previous week.  A decline from record holdings of 11,390.06 tonnes on April 25th paralleled the sell off in the silver market that occurred in early May.  Since mid June, holding of the SLV have stabilized in the range of 9,500 to 9,600 tonnes.

Silver has surged in price since the lst of July when silver closed at $33.85.  Today’s closing New York price of $38.33 gives silver a gain of $4.48 or 13.2% through July 13th.  The price of silver surged today after Fed Chairman Bernanke, mere days after the end of QE2, announced that he was ready to “come to the rescue” of the American financial system again with another round of quantitative easing.   Bernanke’s continued policy of dollar debasement may not do much to revive the economy, but it is certain to send gold and silver prices to all time highs.

The SLV Trust now holds 309.7 million ounces of silver valued at $11.4 billion dollars.  The all time high in the value of silver holdings by the Trust occurred on April 28th at $17.3 billion.

After basing in the $35 range since early May, the SLV looks ready to begin challenging its all time high. The SLV closed today at $37.23 up $2.03.



GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

July 13-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,225.41 +19.60 -55.30
SLV 9,633.95 +101.55 -1,287.62

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) gained 19.60 tonnes last week after small drops in the previous two weeks.  The price of gold has retained virtually all of its price gains this year even as sell offs hit stocks, commodities and other precious metals.  Gold opened the year at $1,388.50 and has steady increased in value.

As it became clear that the deficit talks in Washington would resolve nothing and with easy Ben Bernanke ready to put the printing presses into overdrive, the price of gold soared to all time highs.  The continuing debt crisis in Europe will only get worse, eventually forcing the European Central Bank to engage in its own money printing operations on a massive scale.

As measured by the London PM Fix Price, gold opened the month at $1483.00 and closed in New York trading today at $1,583.60 for a gain of $100.60 or 6.8%.  In later trading in Asian markets, gold continued to soar, climbing another $6.10.  James Turk, a highly respected analyst with a superb track record is forecasting a gold price of between $5,000 and $8,000 before 2015.  Given the pace at which debt trapped countries are tipping over, I suspect that those price targets may be reached much sooner.

The GLD currently holds 39.4 million ounces of gold valued at $62.2 billion.


Gold - Courtesy stockcharts.com




Gold And Silver ETFs Show Modest Decline In Holdings

The holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined slightly on the week by 53.10 tonnes as silver prices continued to consolidate after the sharp sell off of early May.

Since the beginning of the year, holdings have declined by 434.19 tonnes to the current level of 10,540.48 tonnes.  The all time record holdings of the SLV were 11,390.06 tonnes on April 25th, as the price of silver was approaching the $50 per ounce level.

Even after the early May pullback, silver has rewarded investors with a gain of 29.7% from the January low of $26.68.  The SLV has delivered a total return of 115.4% over the past year, and an average 25.8% yearly return since its inception in April 2006.

Despite the downturn in ETF holdings, there is strong evidence of continued strong fundamental demand for silver:

  • The U.S. Mint continues to ration sales of silver bullion coins, as total production cannot meet full market demand. This has led to higher premiums for American Silver Eagles and the newly introduced America the Beautiful Silver Bullion coins.
  • Dealers are reporting continued high demand for silver bullion as an increased number of new investors seek to protect their wealth by diversifying out of paper currency and existing investors use the reduced prices to increase holdings.
  • Investor demand for physical gold and silver is growing dramatically in countries such as India.  According to the Financial Times, silver traders in India report that “People are booking incredible amounts of Silver as they see the current drop in prices as a great opportunity to buy more…most are buying for pure investment.”

Meanwhile, the cheap money policies of the Federal Reserve are not likely to change any time soon.  Minutes of the last Fed meeting on April 27-28th, indicate that the Fed extensively discussed an exit strategy from its easy money policies but provided no guidance on timing.  Most analysts have concluded that it may be years before the Fed actually starts to tighten monetary policy.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

May 18-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,191.34 -9.70 -89.38
SLV 10,540.48 -53.10 -434.19

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) declined slightly on the week by 9.7 tonnes.  It was disclosed this week that investor George Soros sold 4.7 million shares of the GLD during the first quarter, bringing his holdings down to a token 49,400 shares.  The liquidated shares were valued at $684 million based on today’s closing price of the GLD.  The 4.7 million shares of GLD represented only approximately 15 tonnes of gold or 1.2% of total GLD holdings.

Was Soros turning negative on gold, as suggested by the media, or was Soros simply taking some short term profits?  While Soros was selling, legendary hedge fund manager John Paulson did not reduce his massive stake of $4.4 billion in the GLD.  Although Soros has a great long term track record, during the financial panic of 2007-2008, he bought Countrywide and Lehman Brothers shortly before they collapsed.  Perhaps history will repeat and the sale of gold by Soros will mark a major bottom in the gold market.

The long term uptrend in gold is still intact and supported by the fundamentals (see Insights From A Legendary Gold Investor).   Since the SPDR Gold Shares inception date of November 12, 2004, the fund has had a spectacular annual average return of 19.6%.  The GLD currently holds 38.3 million ounces of gold valued at $57.3 billion.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Hit All Time High

The holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) soared to an all time high this week, while the holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) declined slightly.

The SLV saw holdings increased by 179.13 tonnes from the previous week to an all time high of 11,139.52 tonnes of silver.  The previous record high holdings of the SLV was on March 10 at 10,974.06 tonnes.

The holdings of the SLV have increased significantly as the price of silver moved up strongly from the correction low of late January.   Holdings of the SLV have increased by 217.95 tonnes since the beginning of the year and by a massive 734.35 tonnes since February 1st.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

30-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,211.84 -3.03 -68.88
SLV 11,139.52 +179.13 +217.95

The SLV has gained over 38% since the January lows to close today at $36.53.  The total net assets of the SLV now total $13.4 billion, an astonishing 5,095%  increase from $263.5 million at the Trust’s inception in April 2006.


Gold holdings in the GLD were down slightly by 3.03 tonnes as the price of gold continues to consolidate in the low $1400 range.  The GLD has seen a year to date decline of 68.88 tonnes since the first of the year and a decline of 108.63 tonnes from all time high holdings on June 29, 2010.

The value of the gold held by the GLD totals $55.5 billion.  By comparison the market cap of Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s largest gold producers, is $51.5 billion.

Gold has had strong seasonal price trends over the last decade with strong rallies occurring after July into the end of the year.  Based on this tendency, gold may continue to consolidate over the short term before entering its next phase up.  Gold was up 30% in 2010 – a similar move in 2011 would bring gold’s price into the $1,850 range.

The GLD ended up $.46 on the day to close at $138.67, slightly below its 52 week high of $141.28.

GLD Gold Holdings Sixth Largest In The World, SLV Holdings Show Small Decline

The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) both registered small declines over the past week as the price of gold and silver recovered some ground.

Holdings in the GLD declined by .71 tonnes compared to a decline of 2.43 tonnes in the previous week.  Total holdings have now declined by 4.2% or 54.28 tonnes since the start of the new year.  The GLD currently holds 1,226.44 tonnes or 39.4 million ounces of gold valued at $53.8 billion.

Since launching in November 2004, the Gold Shares Trust has grown very rapidly and is now one of the largest gold holders in the world.  The latest stats show the GLD holding 172.34 more tonnes of gold than China at 1,054.1 tonnes.  From zero at its inception, the GLD has become the world’s sixth largest holder of gold in less than seven years.

World Gold Holdings January 2011 - source: World Gold Council

The GLD came into existence at a very auspicious moment in financial history.  As the worst financial crisis since the Depression unfolded, some of the country’s largest banks failed. The entire financial system seemed to be heading for collapse.  Trillions of dollars in government aid stabilized the banking industry but there were plenty of nervous investors who viewed gold as the last monetary refuge.

Gold does not have the inherent counter-party risk that exists with paper financial assets.  An investor purchasing gold does not have to worry about being bailed out of a gold investment.  Gold and silver have intrinsic value that rapacious governments cannot destroy.

The SPDR Gold Share Trust opened the market to a flood of new buyers who were enticed by a very easy and low cost purchase process. Prior to the GLD, it took a dedicated gold buyer to search for a dealer, check credentials, physically drive to the dealer to pick up a gold purchase, followed by another trip to the safe deposit box.  Commissions on the GLD were minimal compared to the markup at dealers.  The GLD made buying gold simple with low markups and little transaction friction.  Investors, many of whom had never before owned gold, rushed into the GLD which became the fastest growing ETF in history.

The GLD launched in November 2004 when gold was trading at approximately $445 per ounce.  Shortly afterward, gold entered a long term rise concurrent with the geometric increase in GLD gold holdings.  The price of bullion tripled to the current level of $1361.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

9-Feb-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,226.44 -0.71 -54.28
SLV 10,370.22 -30.38 -551.35

Silver holdings in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined by 30.38 tonnes over the past week compared to a decline in the previous week of 47.10 tonnes.  The year to date decline of 551.35 tonnes represents a 5% drop in silver holdings.    The SLV has declined by a very modest 2.5% from its high of $30.40 at the beginning of the year.  After a huge gain of 67% in the price of silver since late last year, it is normal to see price consolidation before another advance.

Gold and Silver: Investment Similarities

Gold and silver just seem to go together. They’re two precious metals that we love to invest in, especially after the strong performance of the metals during 2011, and gold’s string of consecutive annual gains stretching back a decade.

This year, gold futures have grown as much as 25% this year and silver futures as much as 75%. It’s this last figure that really interests us though. It is indicative of growing investor interest in a metal that is much more affordable than gold, but still offers many of the same benefits in the precious metals market.

Gold and Silver Investment Options

The major similarities that we can point to are related to the various ways that gold and silver are sold and traded among investors. In most cases, a potential investor has a few different options:

  • They can invest in bullion coins
  • They can invest in numismatic coins
  • They can invest in exchange traded funds or ETFs

Gold and silver bullion coins are produced by a number of different world mints. A few of the most widely traded options include the American Silver Eagle from the United States Mint, the Silver Maple Leaf from the Royal Canadian Mint, and the Silver Philharmonic from the Austrian Mint. These coins are issued each year and are generally sold based on the market price of silver plus a mark up. The mark ups might be $2.50 to $4.00 per coin, depending on the quantity purchased.

Numismatic gold and silver coins are those which are valued not only based on their intrinsic value, but also their rarity and condition. In some cases, a rise in the price of precious metals might not result in an increase in value for numismatic coins since other factors come into play. It takes some understanding of the coin market and grading scales to invest in numismatic coins.

For many beginning investors, Exchange Traded Funds provide a useful alternative. Precious metals ETFs are traded on stock exchanges in the same manner as stocks and generally track the price of the underlying metals. There are different types of ETFs, which use either physical metal or futures and contracts to track the price of the underlying metal. The largest and widely held precious metals ETFs are the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) and the iShares Silver Turst (SLV).