Gold ETF Passes $50 Billion Milestone

Amid all the market doom and gloom, the world’s largest gold fund is quietly celebrating another major milestone: SPDR Gold Shares, an exchange-traded fund backed by physical bullion, has recently surpassed $50 billion in assets.

Driven by concerns over the euro zone sovereign debt crisis and a double-dip recession, investors have plowed $5.4 billion of net cash into the fund during the first five months. At the same time, gold prices have continued to set records – gaining 13.4% so far this year – helping boost the fund’s size.

As of Monday’s close, the fund –  boasts total assets under management of $53.3 billion.

The fund –  known as GLD because of its ticker symbol – now hoards a total of 1,316.18 metric tons of gold and rivals most of the world’s central banks. If GLD were a central bank, it would rank fifth – just below France and above China.

Gold’s safe-haven trait was in evidence again on Tuesday, as stocks were hammered globally and commodity markets were mostly a sea of red. Gold futures for July delivery eked out a gain of $3.8, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,242 per troy ounce at the Comex division of the Nymex.

Now, investors are holding their breath to see whether the gold fund can pass out the $75.6 billion SPDR S&P 500 to become the world’s largest ETF. The gap between the two ETFs – both run by State Street Corp. — has contracted sharply this year from $44.7 billion to $21.3 billion as gold prices have gained and stocks faltered.

By Carolyn Cui, WSJ

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