NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - Gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETF) tracked by Thomson Reuters were headed for their weakest month since July 2017, as investors covered losses in equities, commodities and other markets caused by tariff disputes.
Gold, typically seen as a safe store of value during times of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, has failed to profit from recent trade disputes between China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies.
Investors instead liquidated gold holdings to cover losses in equities, commodities and other markets that were falling due to the tariff disputes, said Walter Pehowich, executive vice president of investment services at precious metals trader and refiner Dillon Gage.
“Gold is the most liquid asset they have. Investors are covering margin calls on the equity markets and other falling markets,” Pehowich said. “People have given up on the gold market for the time being.”
Total holdings for the 12 gold-backed ETFs tracked by Reuters were down 3 percent from 57.8 million ounces last month to 56.2 million by Friday. That would be the largest monthly outflow for gold-back ETFs tracked by Reuters in almost a year.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed ETF, were down almost 3 percent for June to 26.5 million ounces by Friday from 27.2 million ounces last month.
Investors have looked to U.S. Treasuries as a safe-haven investment, rather than gold, because of expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates twice more this year.
“The flight to Treasuries has been where the safe money is going, because the yields have gone up in the Treasuries, whereas gold doesn’t yield any interest,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures, a commodity trading and brokerage firm.
The price of gold continued to hover near six-month lows on Monday.
Spot gold prices were down for the same reasons as ETFs, traders said. Bullion prices were headed for a 2 percent monthly decline, their lowest since September 2017.
Silver fared better than gold, due to industrial demand for the metal. Spot silver prices were down 0.1 percent so far in June.
Total holdings for the eight silver-backed ETFs tracked by Reuters were down 0.4 percent so far in June. Holdings in the largest silver-backed ETF, iShares Silver Trust, were down 0.5 percent for the month.
“Industrial use is helping fuel demand for silver,” said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors. (Reporting by Renita D. Young; Editing by Simon Webb and Lisa Shumaker)