Always a sucker for a good chart, particularly when it involves precious metals, the one below in the most recent Gold Investment Digest from the World Gold Council is a doozy.
The trade group's first quarter report on gold has some rather interesting statistics related to the quickly changing supply and demand situation.
As shown above, inflows to the many gold ETFs around the world have been brisk:
Investors bought 469 tonnes of gold via this channel, dwarfing the previous record, of 145 tonnes, set in the third quarter of last year. SPDR®Gold Shares (“GLD”) enjoyed the bulk of the inflows. The total amount of London Good Delivery bars held by the Trust increased to 1127 tonnes at the end of Q1 09, from 780 tonnes at the end of last year. The two Swiss listed gold ETFs (the ZKB Gold ETF and the Julius Baer Physical Gold Fund) enjoyed the next strongest inflows, rising by 37 tonnes and 32 tonnes respectively. Inflows into the gold ETFs continued to grow throughout the quarter, despite the downward correction in the gold price, indicating that, as in past price corrections, ETF holdings tend to be “sticky”.It's kind of ridiculous just how big the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (NYSEArca:GLD) has become when compared to the nine other funds and they have certainly characterized the inventory correctly in light of recently faltering prices - "sticky" is the right word.
As noted here yesterday, just 23.2 tonnes of the almost 350 tonnes added earlier in the year have exited the trust as the gold price declined from almost $1,000 an ounce in early February to current prices of just over $900.
They had this to say about the many and varied rumors about trading on the COMEX:
The quarter was beset with stories either urging investors to take delivery of, or claiming investors had taken delivery of, large amounts of gold from COMEX, driven by widespread shortages of gold in the spot market. Some claimed that the COMEX warehouses might therefore run out of gold.Geez... The folks at the World Gold Council should really get a hold of some of the officials over at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to see how an industry trade group is really supposed to operate.
The reality was quite different. While there were (at times severe) shortages of coins and small bars during the quarter, there was no shortage of London Good Delivery Bars, the main trading vehicle in the global over-the-counter market. And with respect to COMEX stocks, both registered stocks on COMEX (gold which meets the standards for delivery and for which a receipt from an exchange-approved depository or warehouse has been issued) and eligible stocks (gold which meets the delivery standard but for which no receipt from an exchange-approved warehouse has been issued) increased over the quarter, to 2.94 million ounces and 5.94 million ounces, from 2.83 million ounces and 5.71 million ounces respectively. This took total COMEX stocks as a percentage of long positions to 38%, which is high by historical standards, rather than indicative of stocks that have been depleted by a run on physical gold at COMEX.
Here's a perfect example where they could add to the fervor over rising gold prices by citing some shoddy statistics about how the supply of gold is limited and "it's a good time to buy" but, instead, they pour cold water on one of the biggest stories this year in the gold community about the goings-on at the CRIMEX.
Maybe former NAR chief economist David Lereah could be hired as a consultant to help out.
The Gold Investment Digest goes on to discuss such important topics as gold's correlation with other asset classes, jewelry demand, mine supply, and central bank sales.
If you've never thumbed through this quarterly report, it really is worth a look.
Registration is required at the World Gold Council website to get a copy, but it's free.
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