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How to Play Gold Rally With ETFs

Sweta Killa

Gold has been gaining strong momentum lately, with its price reaching above $1,600 per ounce for first time since 2013. This is especially true in the backdrop of the continued worries over the COVID-19 epidemic in China that has been hurting the stock market, and has raised the safe haven appeal across the board.

Per the latest study, the COVID-19 epidemic has affected more than 73,000 people and claimed nearly 1,900 lives so far. Additionally, the technology giant Apple’s AAPL revenue warning led to risk-off sentiments. It cautioned that it will not be able to meet the current quarter revenue guidance of $63-$67 billion provided last month due to the impact of the virus outbreak, which has temporarily restricted iPhone production and curtailed demand for its products in China (read: Coronavirus to Hurt Apple Earnings: Time to Buy These ETFs?).

Further, gold has been spiking on increased bets that Federal Reserve will feel higher pressure to reduce interest rates in the virus-affected economy. Lower rates will continue to weigh on the dollar against the basket of currencies, raising the yellow metal’s attractiveness as it does not pay interest like fixed-income assets.

Ways to Play

Given the optimism and intense buying pressure on gold, investors have a long list of options to tap the metal’s rally. Below, we have highlighted some of them:

Simple Gold ETFs

While there are many products that are directly linked to the spot gold price or futures, we have highlighted ETFs that have hit new highs in the recent session and carry a favorable Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a Medium risk outlook.

SPDR Gold Trust ETF GLD: This is the largest and most-popular ETF in the gold space with AUM of $47 billion and average daily volume of around 8.4 million shares. The fund tracks the price of gold bullion measured in U.S. dollars, and kept in London under the custody of HSBC Bank USA. Expense ratio comes in at 0.40%.

iShares Gold Trust IAU: This ETF offers exposure to the day-to-day movement of the price of gold bullion and is backed by physical gold under the custody of JP Morgan Chase Bank in London. It has AUM of $19 billion and trades in solid volume of 18.7 million shares a day on average. The ETF charges 25 basis points (bps) in annual fees (read: Safe-Haven ETFs Rally as Coronavirus Cases Surge).  

SPDR Gold MiniShares Trust GLDM: This product seeks to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion. Being a low-cost product with expense ratio of just 0.18%, GLDM has amassed $1.3 billion in AUM and trades in a solid average daily volume of 1.2 million shares.

Leveraged Gold ETFs

Investors who are bullish on gold may consider a near-term long on the precious metal with the following ETFs depending on their risk appetite.

ProShares Ultra Gold ETF UGL: This fund seeks to deliver twice (2x or 200%) the return of the daily performance of gold bullion in U.S. dollars. It charges 95 bps in fees a year and has amassed $116.4 million in its asset base. Volume is moderate at about 90,000 shares per day.

DB Gold Double Long ETN DGP: This ETN seeks to deliver twice the return of the daily performance of the DBIQ Optimum Yield Gold Index Excess Return, charging 75 bps in fees per year. It has accumulated $119.3 million in its asset base so far and trades in an average daily volume of 13,000 shares. The ETN is up 24.6% this year (read: Beyond Coronavirus, What's Driving Gold ETFs?).

VelocityShares 3x Long Gold ETN UGLD: This product provides three times (3x or 300%) exposure to the daily performance of the S&P GSCI Gold Index Excess Return plus returns from U.S. T-bills net of fees and expenses. The ETN has been able to manage an asset base of $216 million while charging a higher fee of 1.35% annually. However, the note trades in a solid volume of about 115,000 shares a day on average.

Gold Mining ETFs

Acting as a leveraged play on the underlying metal prices, metal miners tend to experience more gains than their bullion cousins in a rising metal market. Hence, mining ETFs also look compelling choices:

Market Vectors Gold Mining ETF GDX: This is the most-popular and actively traded gold miner ETF with AUM of $12.8 billion and average daily volume of around 55 million shares. The fund follows the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, holding 47 stocks in its basket. Canadian firms account for half of the portfolio, while the United States (18.2%) and Australia (14.3%) round off the top three. The fund charges 52 bps in annual fees (read: 10 ETFs for 2020).

VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF GDXJ: GDXJ is a small-cap centric ETF that tracks the MVIS Global Junior Gold Miners Index. Holding 71 stocks in its basket, Canadian firms dominate the fund’s portfolio at 44.3%, while Australia (22.4%) and South Africa (12.6%) round out the top three. The product has AUM of $4.8 billion and charges 53 bps in annual fees. It trades in heavy volume of around 15.3 million shares a day on average.

iShares MSCI Global Gold Miners ETF RING: This ETF follows the MSCI ACWI Select Gold Miners Investable Market Index and holds 37 securities in its portfolio. Canadian firms take half of the portfolio, while United States, South Africa and Australia round out the top four with a double-digit exposure each. RING is the cheapest choice in the gold mining space, charging just 39 bps in fees and expenses. The fund has been able to manage assets worth $336.5 million and trades in a good volume of 247,000 shares per day (see: all the Precious Metal ETFs here).

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