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Biggest weekly inflows at iShares gold ETF since ‘11

BlackRock's iShares​ unit added three ETFs to its lineup of investment-grade corporate bond funds.

Count on mom and pop investors to hold tight amid a pullback in gold prices.

Holdings in ETFs backed by bullion have increased for 19 straight sessions, the longest run since 2009, with the largest low-cost ETF leading the surge. BlackRock’s iShares Gold Trust (IAU) attracted $364.9 million in the week through Thursday, the biggest five-day inflow since 2011. A relatively low expense ratio makes the fund attractive for retail investors.

Geopolitical friction and a slowdown in global economic growth have boosted haven demand for gold, and ETF investors are staying with the metal even as its rally shows signs of sputtering. Bullion, up 16% this year, has wavered in the past several weeks as equities near record highs and signs of a thaw in the U.S.-China trade war trim demand. Gold prices posted a weekly loss Friday.

“Despite elevated exposure, we do not believe interest in gold is saturated,” Suki Cooper, precious metals analyst at Standard Chartered Bank, said in an emailed note Friday. Flows into ETPs “have stayed healthy and have risen on price dips and amid escalating geopolitical tensions. In recent months interest in the U.S. has been reignited, suggesting additional scope for new holdings.”

Hedge funds and other large speculators are also staying the course on gold, with bullish bets in U.S. futures and options near an all-time high reached last month. The net-long position rose 6.1% to 249,632 contracts in the week ended Oct. 8, according to CFTC data released Friday.

The correlation between fees and performance is not “apples-to-apples when taking the funds’ underlying exposures into account,” an expert says.
July 17

The expense ratio for iShares is 25 basis points, well below the 49-basis-point median of almost 300 funds tracked by Bloomberg, attracting more mom-and-pop investors.

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News