Friday, 9 December 2011

Spreads, sterling gold vs dollar gold

As the eurozone summit progressed today the performance of ETF Securities' sterling denominated (PHGP) and dollar denominated physical gold ETFs (PHAU) diverged, as did their spreads (although I'm still waiting to get a proper breakdown of these from ETF Securities.)

When I looked around 2pm today PHAU shares had a 0.04% spread (the difference between the price at which I can sell shares and the price at which I can buy them)

While PHGP had a 0.2% spread. Although they're both small figures, that is a five-fold difference.

Today PHAU was among the top ten shares bought by Hargreaves Lansdown clients making up 1.3% of the value of all shares bought.

Whatever the political outcome of the eurozone crisis and the summit, it was never likely to suit everyone involved. All parties want a solution of some kind but will employ brinkmanship to make their voices heard. It is ongoing.

Something happened but what it was is still unclear.From the point of view of an under resourced gold ETF investor all I could see was this divergence of paths between sterling gold and dollar gold earlier today.

Dollar denominated gold gained while sterling denominated gold fell. That means that my dollar denominated physical gold ETF (PHAU) gained nearly 1% but if I had sold it, the dollars I would have got from the sale would have been automatically converted into pounds sterling.

And pounds sterling, as well as the euro, gained against the dollar as the build up to the summit results went on before settling back in the aftermath - as did the gap between PHGP and PHAU.

That's the way the ETF works. So my actual return would have been more akin to the sterling denominated ETF PHGP. In effect, the dollars I made from gold would have been swallowed up by the dollar falling in value against the pound.