As US stocks approach a bear market, investors are seeking shelter in gold exchange-traded funds typically seen as a safety play in times of uncertainty.
The $32.4 billion SPDR Gold Shares fund, ticker GLD, saw inflows of more than $643 million one day this week, the most since July 2016. The fund has received cash infusions for three straight sessions, totaling $846 million. Similarly, the iShares Gold Trust, or IAU, took in about $114 million since Friday.
Inflows into gold ETFs come on the back of an extended downturn in the S&P 500 Index, which has slid 17 percent this quarter as investors worry about trade negotiations, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a US government shutdown. One of the rare bright spots in markets these days is gold, with the precious metal up more than 7 percent this quarter and set for its biggest monthly gain in almost two years.
“When you get times of strife or fear or volatility in the markets, people tend to buy gold as a safe haven,” said Sean O’Hara, president at Pacer ETFs Distributors. “People’s fear takes over, emotions get us.”
Gold can be a store of value and some longer-term trends make it attractive, according to Dave Campbell, a principal at BOS, a San Francisco-based wealth management firm with around $4.2 billion in assets under management.
“There doesn’t seem to be any fiscal restraint in Washington these days,” he said in an interview. “That means we’re borrowing money or will be printing, but it’s a tough road and that could weigh on our currency. Gold could actually hold up its value over time better.”