Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gold fund currency play

The price of gold is once again front page news. Although the inflation adjusted high of bullion is a considerable leap from its current level ($881.70), the nominal record has captured the speculator's podium. In the old days unsophisticated retail investors were left with few real alternatives for investing in the gold cycle other than buying gold stocks. The modern age of exchange traded funds has improved the offering. Gold bullion funds now attract plenty of trading. Canadian investors, however, should be aware of the effects of currency fluctuations when they consider buying into these assets. Traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange is the iShares Comex Gold Fund (TSX:IGT), denominated in Canadian funds. As the value of the Canadian dollar advanced through much of last year the relative return of the U.S. dollar denominated asset was discounted. There is always currency risk in holding assets denominated in another currency, just as investors would experience in investing in the AMEX-listed iShares Comex Gold Trust (AMEX:IAU) once they repatriate the asset. For Canadian investors a firming of the U.S dollar is now helping the situation. The adjacent graph charts the 13-week price momentum spread between the TSX-listed Comex Gold fund and the AMEX-listed Comex Gold trust. It shows the discount of IGT dissipating over the past two months, now turning in favour of the Canadian listed fund. Bullion price advances in the context of a stable currency exchange give Canadian investors more of an opportunity to reap a full return on the commodity.

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