December 4, 2023

Silver ETF Holdings Decline Again As Gold ETF Holdings Gain

Holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined again this week by 106.14 tonnes after a decline of 248.69 tonnes in the previous week.  The year to date decline in silver holdings by the SLV now totals 1,362.19 tons.

The decline in holdings of the SLV from its all time high of 11,390.06 tonnes on April 25, 2011 now totals 1,830.68 tonnes, or a decline of 16.1%.  There is not a direct and timely correlation between the price of silver and the holdings of the SLV as evidenced by the fact that silver has declined in price by a much larger percentage than holdings in the iShares Silver Trust.  From its high of $48.70 on April 28th, silver has had a price correction of 35.6%.

The holdings of silver by the SLV are structured in a complex manner.  The trust is set up so that the SLV price correlates closely to the price of silver.  This is accomplished by allowing Authorized Participants to arbitrage against a premium or discount of the SLV to the trust’s underlying net asset value  (see How Wall Street Made Huge Profits On Silver ETF Crash As Small Investors Sold).

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, silver closed today at $35.91, up slightly from last Wednesday’s close of $35.26.  Silver has been consolidating in the mid 30 range after the early May sell off.

As of June 22, 2011, the SLV held 307.3 million ounces of silver valued at $11.0 billion.



Silver seems to be building a base in the mid $30’s and presents a buying opportunity for long term investors.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

June 22-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,209.14 +9.09 -71.58
SLV 9,559.38 -106.14 -1,362.19

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) gained by 9.09 tonnes on the week after a decline of 11.52 tonnes in the previous week.   The GLD currently holds 38.88 million ounces of gold valued at $60.3 billion.

As measured by the closing London PM Fix Price, gold closed on Wednesday at $1,552.50, a new closing high on the year.  The price of gold remains in a solid uptrend supported by huge physical demand from investors and central banks.




How Wall Street Pros Made Huge Profits On Silver ETF Crash As Small Investors Sold

The holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined by a substantial 505.10 tonnes from the previous week.  The decline in SLV silver holdings from the all time high of 11,390.06 tonnes reached on April 25th comes in at a hefty 1,448.73 tonnes or 12.7%.  Silver, meanwhile, has declined in price by $8.31 per ounce or 18.3% since April 25th.

Although the price per share of the SLV tracks the price per ounce of silver very closely, the actual bullion holdings of the SLV can fluctuate, sometimes dramatically, from the underlying price movements of silver.  This same situation applies to the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD).

The reason why the physical holdings of the SLV and GLD do not closely track the price of gold and silver is due to the complex mechanism by which Authorized Participants can “create or redeem” shares in the SLV and GLD.  The silver and gold trusts are structured to allow large Wall Street investment firms to act as Authorized Participants to arbitrage against a premium or discount of the SLV or GLD share prices to the underlying net asset value of the Trusts.

Premiums or discounts to the net asset value of the Trusts occur based on normal supply and demand by investors during the course of trading in SLV and GLD shares.  The Authorized Participants routinely reap profits from their arbitrage activities based on the prevailing discounts or premiums .  According to the prospectuses of the GLD and SLV, the Trusts were structured in this manner to allow the price of the GLD and SLV shares to closely correspond to the underlying value of gold and silver bullion.

The Trusts do not directly buy or sell bullion based on investor buy or sell orders for the SLV and GLD.  The Trusts are not structured like a typical mutual fund which liquidates its holdings if there is a surge of investor redemptions.  Changes in the number of Trust shares outstanding and changes in holdings of gold and silver occur only based on the creation or redemption of shares through Authorized Participants.

Premiums or discounts of the SLV and GLD shares to net asset values are normally less than 1% but can expand dramatically when trading is volatile.  For example, on May 2nd, when silver prices were plunging, the shares of the SLV reached a huge discount of 9.87% from the net asset value of silver held by the SLV Trust.  Investors desperately seeking to liquidate their SLV shares caused the value of the SLV to trade at a steep discount to the underlying net asset value of the Trust.

At this point the lucky Wall Street pros who act as Authorized Participants were gladly buying the SLV shares and simultaneously shorting silver bullion, locking in huge profits.  Authorized Participants who arbitraged during this volatile trading profited greatly at the expense of panicky SLV sellers who sold shares of the SLV at $42.79 that were worth $47.51 based on the net asset value of the SLV.  (Pricing data on the SLV share discount was obtained from the iShares Silver Trust web site).

The Authorized Participants who bought SLV shares during the panic sell off then delivered their SLV shares to the iShare Trust and requested that they be redeemed for silver bullion which was then used to close out short positions in silver bullion.  Under this situation, the silver bullion holdings of the SLV decreased since they delivered silver bullion to the Authorized Participants in exchange for redeemed SLV shares.  This is exactly the situation that has occurred during the May silver sell off and it is therefore no surprise that the holdings of the SLV have plunged.

The average investor in the iShares Silver Trust would be hard pressed to understand the “creation and redemption” features of the SLV shares.  Although the SLV can be an easy way for an investor to participate in silver bullion ownership, my investment thesis is to avoid investments that cannot be fully or easily understood.

For investors seeking to establish investments in gold and silver without having to hold the physical metal, the Sprott Physical Gold Trust (PHYS) or the Sprott Physical Silver Trust (PSLV) offer better opportunities.  Both of these Trust hold specific amounts of physical gold or silver which do not change.  Each share holder has an unallocated interest in the precious metals held by the Trust.

All precious metal holdings of the Sprott Trusts are secured not by a bank, as with the GLD, but by the Royal Canadian Mint of the Canadian Government which is responsible for any loss or damage .  The gold or silver backing the Sprott Trusts are specifically allocated by the Mint to the Sprott Trusts.

From a total investment return standpoint, it is also important to note that the shareholders of the PHYS and PSLV are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15% (if held for more than one year) whereas shareholders of the GLD and SLV are taxed at 28%.  For further information see Sprott Physical Gold Trust Advantages Over SPDR Gold Shares Trust.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

May 25-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,214.08 +22.74 -66.64
SLV 9,941.33 -505.10 -980.24

Holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) increased by a modest 22.74 tonnes from the prior week to 1,241.08 tonnes.   The GLD held 1,280.72 tonnes at the beginning of the year.  The all time record holdings were reached on June 29, 2010 at 1,320.47 tonnes.  The GLD currently holds 39.0 million ounces of gold bullion valued at $59.6 billion.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Reach Record High As Gold and Silver Hit New Highs

Silver holdings of the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) jumped to another new record high this week while holdings of the SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) dropped slightly.

The SLV holdings increased by 22.93 tonnes to surpass last week’s record high.  Holdings of the SLV now total 11,162.45 tonnes or 358.9 million ounces of silver valued at $14.2 billion.  Since silver began its nonstop advance in late January, holdings of the SLV have increased by a substantial 757.28 tonnes.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

6-April-2011 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,205.47 -6.37 -75.25
SLV 11,162.45 +22.93 +240.88

The London Fix Price for silver increased by $2.10 (5.6%) over the past week, closing today just below $40 at $39.63.  The price of silver has now reached levels last seen 31 years ago in 1980.  Patient silver investors who took the opportunity to increase holdings when the metal was below $10 per ounce are now enjoying the profit of patience.

The astonishing rally in silver prices since late last August has resulted in a gain of 114% for the SLV.  Profits from owning the ProShares Ultra Silver ETF (which does not hold physical silver) have been even more dramatic for silver bulls with a gain of over 400% since last August.

Despite the large price gains in silver since late January, we have not yet witnessed a large volume price spike as was seen in early November 2010 which lead to a 3 month price consolidation.  The next logical resistance level for silver would be on its approach to $50.  Besides the psychological resistance of round numbers, the all time high of silver is $48.70 reached in January 1980.


Holdings of the GLD declined by 6.37 tonnes on the week, bringing the decline in gold bullion holdings to 75.25 tonnes since the beginning of the year.  The all time record holdings of the GLD reached 1,320.47 tonnes on June 29, 2010.  The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) now holds a total of 38.8 million ounces of gold valued at $56.6 billion.

The price of gold, as measured by the closing London PM Fix Price hit an all time high today of $1,461.50 and has now broken through resistance at the $1,450 level.  Many analysts are now targeting $1,500 as their next price objective.  Fundamentals favoring the gold market continue to be strong, especially as the U.S. continues inexorably towards a debt crisis at some point in the future (see Gold and Silver Soar As Budget Fiasco Sends Wrong Message to U.S. Creditors).

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.

iShares Silver Trust Holdings Decline, SPDR Gold Shares Trust Holdings Unchanged

Holdings of silver in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) declined slightly on the week, while holdings in the SPDR  Gold Shares Trust (GLD) remained unchanged.

Silver holdings declined by a modest 28.85 tonnes since last week, after seeing increases of 209.54 tonnes and 189.29 tonnes in the previous two weeks.  The year to date holdings in the SLV have increased by 23.64 tonnes.  The value of silver held is valued now $12.22 billion based on holdings of 351.9 million ounces of silver.

Despite collapsing stock markets, a devastating earthquake in Japan, increased turmoil in the Middle East and a wild escalation of money printing by the Bank of Japan, gold and silver moved lower over the past week calling into question the safe haven status of precious metals.

After a huge run up in the price of silver over the past year, it is not unusual to see a correction in prices.  Since consolidating in January, silver prices had run up almost 40% over the past two months from $26 to $36 per ounce.  Aside from normal profit taking after such a huge increase, some of the selling pressure in silver may be due to margin calls.  Investors who have leveraged positions in the market may be liquidating positions to reduce overall exposure until markets stabilize.

Another factor that has ironically made the precious metals markets more volatile is the manner in which the SLV and GLD are structured.   Fast rising prices of gold and silver attract speculators who do not have a long term commitment.  The SLV and GLD allow effective ownership of the metals without the cost and inconvenience of taking physical positions.  Although speculative purchases help to push prices up, the opposite will occur when the fast money crowd decides to take profits at the first sign of price weakness.  Since last week, the price of silver based on the London Fix price, has declined by $1.44 or 4%.

SLV - courtesy yahoo finance

Asian stock futures are down virtually across the board as the situation in Japan deteriorates and spot gold and silver prices are also showing declines.

GLD and SLV Holdings (metric tonnes)

16-March-11 Weekly Change YTD Change
GLD 1,217.30 +0.00 -63.42
SLV 10,945.21 -28.85 +23.64

Holdings in the SPDR  Gold Shares Trust (GLD) remained unchanged from the prior week at 1,217.30 tonnes with a year to date decline of 63.42 tonnes. The GLD currently holds 39.14 million ounces of gold valued at $54.86 billion.

Gold has been unable to mount a strong rally since hitting an all time intraday price of $1,440 in early March.  It may be just a question of time before gold resumes rallying based on continued weakness in the U.S. dollar and virtually unlimited money printing operations by central banks worldwide.  The supply of currencies can be increased with virtually no limit as sovereign governments bump up against the limits of debt expansion.  The supply of gold and silver is limited and will always hold intrinsic value without counter party risk.  The choice will become apparent to more investors as economic conditions continue to deteriorate.

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).