Gold rally prompts Indians to go after gold funds

Gold rally prompts Indians to go after gold funds 
By Sreekumar Raghavan 
MUMBAI (Commodity Online): India which recorded the strongest growth of 66% in gold demand in 2010 at 963.1 tonnes thanks to jewellery demand is now witnessing a boom in investment demand in the yellow metal and silver.

This is evident fom the Rs 4000 cr generated by the country's first gold savings fund, Reliance Gold fund which opened for subscription on February 14 and closed on February 28. According to analysts this a record for any new fund offer (NFO).The fund house recieved over two lakh applications in such a short period of time. 

Meanwhile, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company, has launched its latest fund-of-fund named ‘Kotak Gold Fund’. This unique open ended fund will enable investors to take exposure to gold without having a demat account. In addition to this Kotak AMC will offer investors the option to invest as little as Rs 1000 per month through the SIP route. The Kotak Gold Fund was opened for subscription from March 4 and due to end on March 18, 2011 will have its performance benchmarked against the prices of physical gold. 

The advantage of gold ETFs and funds is that it does not attract wealth tax as in holding physical gold while long term capital gains tax is applicable after first year. The newly launched Kotak and Reliance gold funds have the added advantage that investors need not have a demat account to operate the scheme. And it also provides investors with the option of systematic investments in small amounts. There is one compelling reason why investors are queing up for gold funds. 

According to Kotak Mutual Fund, gold has consitently provided a return of 0-30 percent since 1980 while the investments based on the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index (Sensex) has widely fluctuated from -53 % in 2008, -21% in 1995 although it has zoomed to 82% in 1991. The volatility in gold investments whether in physical form or through ETF has been much, much lesser creating a safe haven investment demand for the yellow metal schemes. 

Sundeep Sikka, CEO of Reliance MF was quoted in news reports as saying that the robust response to the fund indicates that gold could emerge as one of the largest asset classes for the Indian mutual fund industry. 

Association of Mutual Funds in India data shows that the assets of gold ETFs in India had more than doubled in January from a year earlier to 35.81 billion rupees. Ten of the gold ETF's presently operating in India have given an average return of 25% on an annualised basis which is one reason why there is growing interest in this investment vehicle. 

The increased returns from silver has promoted a few institutions to launch silver ETFS. Benchmark Mutual Fund, which has the largest assets under gold ETFs has submitted the application to Securities and Exchange Board of India. The Bombay Bullion Association is also planning to launch silver and gold ETFs soon. But it needs to launch a mutual fund before starting an ETF as per current rules. Physical holding in silver ETFs at the global level are estimated to be almost 14,000 metric tons. With the recent surge in buying silver bars, jewellery in India, analysts hope Silver ETFs will be able to attract huge investor funds just as it did with the newly launched gold fund of Reliance. 

Gold and silver futures account for a major share of the futures trading volumes in 23 odd commodity exchanges in India, according to data compiled by market regulator, Forward Markets Commission.Turnover of commodity exchanges in India surged by 52 percent to Rs 105.92 lakh crore in 2010-2011 with one more month to go for this fiscal. 

India has five national level commodity exchanges that includes MCX, NCDEX, ICEX, NMCE and ACE Derivatives and Commodity Exchange. The country is also home to 18 regional level bourses.