Largest ETF inflows in three years drove gold demand higher in the third quarter

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Pure 1,000-gram gold bars.

A surge in speculation led to an increase in gold demand in the third quarter, according to a World Gold Council report released Tuesday.

Exchange-traded fund inflows shot higher by the largest amount since the first quarter of 2016, in what the council attributed to accommodative monetary policies, safe-haven and momentum buying. During the third quarter, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates twice, and the European Central Bank cut interest rates in a package of easing measures.

Leading gold ETFs include the SPDR Gold Trust GLD, -0.29%, iShares Gold Trust IAU, -0.21%   and the Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF SGOL, -0.27%.

Overall gold demand rose just 3% during the quarter, as jewelry demand shrank by 16% as the yellow metal’s prices rose.

Gold futures GC00, -0.32%  were holding above the $1,500 an ounce level on Tuesday and have climbed by 19% over the last 12 months.

Central-bank buying fell by 38%, as the third quarter of 2018 featured the highest amount of buying on record. Bar and coin demand dropped by half.

The gold supply rose by 4%, helped by a 10% increase in recycling.