Billionaires Bet Big on Gold, But Jewelry Demand Mixed

Two noted investors—John Paulson and George Soros—are increasing their holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, an exchange-traded fund linked to gold.

According to Bloomberg News, the Paulson & Co. hedge fund just purchased 4.53 million shares of the gold trust. Soros Fund Management bought an additional 564,850 shares, to reach 884,400, the news agency reported.

This activity comes in spite of a mixed year for the metal. At press time, gold was trading at $1,616 an ounce. It began the year at $1,598 an ounce.

According to a new report from the World Gold Council, during the second quarter of 2012, the average price of gold was $1,609.49 per ounce, 7 percent higher than the average for the second quarter of 2011.

The WGC said that while investors still recognize the metal as a store of value, it has been impacted by shaky demand, particularly in the key markets of India and China.

In the U.S., demand for gold jewelry dropped 7 percent in the second quarter, the WGC report said, compared to a 9 percent drop in the first quarter. In value terms, demand was unchanged, at $1 billion.

However, the report said it was “cautiously optimistic” about U.S. gold jewelry demand for the remainder of the year, noting the consolidation of the gold price was attracting consumers back to the market.