Metals Stocks: Gold books sharp gain in 2021’s last day, but logs steepest yearly fall since 2015 as ETF interest wanes

United States

Gold futures settled sharply higher Friday in 2021’s final session, but the precious metal still registered the steepest annual drop since 2015 as investor appetite for the traditional safe-haven asset sagged.

The precious metal advanced in the final week, month and quarter of the year but it wasn’t sufficient to help avoid closing 2021 in negative territory and registering the sharpest yearly drop, down 3.6%, since the metal ended down over 10% in 2015.

February gold GCG22, +0.81%   GC00, +0.81% traded up $ 14.50, or 0.8%, to end at $ 1,828.60 an ounce on Friday, following a 0.5% gain for the metal on Thursday.

For the week, gold rose 0.9%, posted a 2.9% gain, and rose around 4% in the final three months of the year, FactSet data show.

Tom McClellan, technical analyst and editor at the The McClellan Market Report, wrote on Thursday that gold has seen lackluster interest in exchange-traded funds pegged to the precious commodity, even as the asset has garnered some traction in recent trade, referencing the iShares Gold Trust IAU, +0.55% and the SPDR Gold Shares GLD, +0.56%, two of the most popular ways for investors to gain exposure to the yellow metal.

Both ETFs are down by at least 4% in 2021.

Tom McClellan

“Right now, gold is moving up slightly, but the total assets of the two funds combined is the lowest since April 2020,” McClellan wrote. Ordinarily, assets in the ETFs tend to rise and fall in sympathy with gold prices.   

“The public is not believing in the up move by gold prices, which of course makes that move more legitimate,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, March silver SIH22, +1.21% on Friday picked up 29.2 cents, or 1.3%, to close at $ 23.352 an ounce, following a 0.9% rise on Thursday. Silver was on track for its worst yearly decline, down around 12% since 2014.

For the week, silver is up 1.8%, with a 2.4% monthly rise and a 5.9% gain for the quarter. However, gold’s sister metal posted a 11.5% yearly fall, marking its sharpest annual drop since 2014 when it fell 19.5%.

Elsewhere on Comex, March copper HGH22, +1.49% gained 7.1 cents, or 1.6%, to finish at $ 4.4635 a pound. For the week, copper was looking at a 1.5% weekly rise, a 4.2% gain on the month and a 9.1% advance in the quarter. The industrial metal has climbed nearly 27% in 2021, which represents its biggest annual gain since a roughly 32% gain in 2017.

April platinum PLF22, +0.18% closed $ 1.60, or less than 0.1%, higher to settle at $ 966.20 an ounce, after shedding 0.6% on Thursday.

For the week, platinum is down 0.9%, but up 4.2% on the month, with a 0.4% quarterly rise. The white metal is down nearly 11% for the year, however, for its steepest yearly slide since 2018.

Palladium for March delivery PAH22, -4.09% lost $ 71.10, or 3.6%, to end at $ 1,912.10 an ounce, after falling 0.2% on Thursday. For the week, the metal lost over 2%, with an 11% monthly gain but was flat to slightly lower in the quarter. For the year, palladium lost about 22% to mark its firmest annual decline since 2015.