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As Miners Wilt, Interest in Leveraged ETFs Rises


As gold prices continue to stumble, weakness is mounting in shares of gold mining equities and the relevant exchange traded funds.

The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) has shed 8.4% over the past month, but GDX, the largest gold miners ETF by assets, is far from the lone offender. At least eight gold and silver miners ETFs ranked among the worst non-leveraged performers last month. [Commodities ETFs Crushed]

Another tumble for gold miners is stoking increased interest in volatile leveraged ETFs. That renewed interest comes as investors are finally pulling capital, albeit small amounts, from traditional miners funds. For example, GDX and the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) have lost a combined $12.2 million over the past month. To be fair, GDX has added $268.1 million in new assets this year while $586.6 million has flowed into GDXJ. [Miners ETFs Flows, Returns Diverge]

Although the sample size is just two trading days, the Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index Bear 3X Shares (JDST) is Direxion’s second-best bearish ETF since the start of June while the Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index Bull 3x Shares (JNUG) is the issuer’s second-worst bullish fund. JDST and JNUG are triple-leveraged equivalents of GDXJ, an ETF with a three-year standard deviation of almost 42%, according to Market Vectors data.

For the five-day period ending June 3, JNUG’s volume jumped to 54% above the trailing 20-day average, according to Direxion data.

Activity has also been increasing in the ETFs that are the leveraged answers to GDX. The Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X Shares (NUGT) saw its average five-day volume rise to 40% above the trailing 20-day average while the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bear 3X Shares (DUST) saw a 10.1% volume increase in the five days ending June 3.

The fact that JNUG and NUGT are seeing larger volume increases is not surprising as the scenario has been seen before and the two ETFs have larger average daily volumes than their bearish counterparts.

However, when the volume increases are combined with creation and redemption activity, the picture indicates some traders have been getting things dangerously wrong with mining ETFs. [2014 Gains Nearly Gone for Miners ETFs]

Over the past month, JDST has seen modest inflows, but not nearly enough to compete with the nearly $63 million that has gone into JNUG. During that same period, investors have allocated $3 to NUGT for every $1 pulled from DUST. Yet DUST is up 27.4% over that time while NUGT has tumbled 24%.

Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bear 3X Shares


ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of JNUG.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.