Photograph by Stefen Chow/Bloomberg
A record amount of gold is held in exchange-traded funds -- about 2,600 metric tons, roughly equal to the world's total gold production, says HSBC chief commodities analyst James Steel. The biggest by far is the U.S.-incorporated $74 billion SPDR Gold Trust, offered by State Street. ETFs are also growing in countries where traditionally buyers have preferred physical gold. India's seven gold ETFs hold $1.7 billion, with the largest run by Goldman Sachs. China's first fund launched last year, and more are on the way. Steel says the amount of gold in ETFs doesn't fluctuate as much as the price of gold, suggesting many ETF owners have a "buy and hold strategy."