With continued weakness in U.S. equity markets and investors continuing to flock to safe havens such as precious-metals commodities, the crown of the largest exchange-traded fund has passed for the first time to SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) from SPDR S&P 500 (SPY). While the changing of the guard may be temporary, it highlights investor interest in nontraditional asset classes.
Morningstar data show that prior to Monday's market open, GLD had $76.67 billion in assets to SPY's $74.38 billion. The fund, which issues shares backed by physical bullion, has benefited both from rising gold prices and increased inflows, while the opposite dynamics--falling equity prices and investors heading for the exits--have befallen SPY. Concerns over sovereign debt--both in the United States and in Europe--haven't helped matters.
Robert Goldsborough does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.