The Complete History of the GLD

Carolyn Pairitz
August 13, 2013

The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD, A-) is the oldest commodity ETF, and perhaps one of the best known exchange-traded funds in the world. Here’s a quick primer on the history of GLD, by the numbers:

Vital Stats

Below are some stats that put GLD into perspective:

  • Oldest U.S.-listed Precious Metal ETF (launched 2004)
  • Largest U.S. listed Precious Metal ETF ($39.26 billion in AUM)
  • Most Heavily Traded U.S. listed ETF (AMV of 8.37 million shares)

Year by Year

Between its first full year of trading in 2005 and 2012, GLD did not have a single negative annual return:

Combined together, that translates into an aggregate performance of about 183% between inception and July 1, 2013:

Best and Worst Runs

Though not as volatile as many other commodity ETFs, GLD has experienced some big swings over the years:

Visualized another way, here’s a look at the daily performance of GLD since its inception (note the significant increase in volatility throughout 2008 and 2013):

daily changes GLD
daily changes GLD

click to enlarge

Here’s yet another way to look at the daily historical volatility of GLD:

Of the 13 sessions in which GLD has moved by 5% or more, here’s the chronological breakdown:

Over one week (five session) periods, GLD has gained as much as 16.9% and lost as much as 14.3% of its value:

Here’s a look at GLD’s biggest swings over a 10-session period of time:

Fun Facts

  • With $39.26 billion in assets, GLD is currently the 5th largest fund and represents about 2.5% of the total ETF universe.
  • GLD hit its highest price on August 22nd, 2011 closing at $184.59.
  • As of July 31, GLD has lost 21.02%.


GLD charges an annual management fee of 40 basis points, making it one of the cheaper precious metal ETFs available. With assets of $38.75 billion, that means GLD generates about $155 million annually, or about $17680 every hour.

What a $1 Million Investment Would Be Worth Today

What would your return on GLD be if you invested in it from the beginning? 

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing. 

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