Gold ETFs have been dominating the headlines of late. Although trade war fears initiated by the United States have increased the appeal of some of these funds as safe-haven investments, fears of rising rates are weighing on their performance (read: Do ETF Investors Need Inflation Protection Now?).
Factors Driving Prices
U.S. Economic Scenario
The U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs in February — the highest since July 2016 — compared with a Reuters forecast of 200,000. However, tepid wage growth reduced fears of the Fed going on a rate hike spree. Average hourly earnings in the United States grew a mere 0.1% in February compared with 0.3% in the previous month.
Also, retail sales data for February has been discouraging. However, the greenback rallied ahead of the Fed meeting owing to reduced jobless claims in the most recent week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 226,000 for the week ended Mar 10, per the Labor Department (read: US Retail Sales Fall for 3 Straight Months: ETFs in Focus).
Although chances of four interest rate hikes in 2018 have reduced as of now, it is too early to comment on what turn the U.S. economy might take in the rest of the calendar year. Interest rate hikes have a negative impact on gold, since the precious metal is a non-yielding asset.
Trade War, Strained UK-Russia Relations
Moving on, President Trump has initiated fears of a trade war owing to his protectionist agenda. Trump’s plans of implementing a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum imports weighed on the markets. “When a country is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted earlier this month (read: Trade War Fears Loom: Protect Your Portfolio With These ETFs).
Moreover, recently the U.K. accused Russia of a nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The United States, Germany and France joined the U.K. to condemn the attack. Such global tensions might make investors reallocate some of their portfolio assets to safe haven investments.
Let us now discuss a few ETFs focused on providing exposure to the space (see all Precious Metals ETFs here).
SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD - Free Report)
This fund offers physical exposure to gold. It seeks to track the performance of the gold bullion and might turn out to be a cost-efficient way of gaining exposure to the commodity even after accounting for the fund’s expenses.
It has AUM of $35.5 billion and charges a fee of 40 basis points a year. It has returned 7.4% in a year. As such, GLD carries a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a Medium risk outlook.
iShares Gold Trust ETF (IAU - Free Report)
This ETF seeks to provide exposure to prices of the gold bullion and can be used as a means to attain portfolio diversification or achieve hedging targets.
It has AUM of $11.3 billion and charges a fee of 25 basis points a year. It has returned 7.7% in a year. As such, IAU carries a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.
ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (SGOL - Free Report)
This fund aims to track the performance of the gold bullion before fees and expenses and is a convenient way of gaining exposure to the metal.
It has AUM of $1.1 billion and charges a fee of 39 basis points a year. It has returned 7.5% in a year. As such, SGOL carries a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.
Another way of gaining exposure to the metal is through ETFs investing in commodity futures. Let us discuss one such ETF.
PowerShares DB Gold Fund (DGL - Free Report)
This fund is appropriate for those looking for a cost-efficient way of investing in commodity futures. However, since this fund invests in the futures markets, it is not deemed suitable for all investors owing to the highly speculative nature of the investments.
It has AUM of $193.1 million and is relatively expensive as it charges a fee of 75 basis points a year. It has returned 6.5% in a year. As such, DGL carries a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a Medium risk outlook.
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