Gold trading among existing private investors rebounded as bullion prices steadied in November, but new interest from first-time buyers sank to its lowest since the metal's bear market price lows of 2015, according to new data from BullionVault, an online marketplace for physical precious metals.
This pulled the Gold Investor Index lower to 53.9 from October's reading of 54.6. Internet searches for 'buy Bitcoin' meanwhile further overtook the phrase 'buy gold' last month as the crypto-currency jumped to new all-time historic highs above $11,000.
Gold trading on BullionVault rose 30.5 percent by volume last month from October. Across November as a whole, clients of the West London-based fintech specialists added 100 kilograms of gold to their holdings overall, which took total client gold holdings back above 38.0 tonnes, within 0.2 percent of July's all-time peak.
But the number of new first-time investors fell again, recording its lowest monthly level on BullionVault since December 2015, when gold, silver and platinum prices hit five, six and seven-year lows respectively before turning sharply higher.
Over the last 12 months, the number of first-time precious metal investors has now fallen by 20.1 percent compared to the previous half-decade. Only Germany is ahead of its five year average among BullionVault's top 10 markets, with the number of new users from the Eurozone's largest economy rising 10.5 percent in the 12 months to November 2017.
"Whether or not Bitcoin ever achieves common use as money, the crypto-currency plainly offers investors a hot speculation and not a safe haven right now. Bitcoin's fresh record highs have come alongside new historic highs in the stock market, led by stretched valuations in tech shares. The ultimate investment insurance of physical gold in contrast is trading flat in line with its five year average,” said Adrian Ash, director of research at BullionVault.
"Only German investors have so far used this opportunity to start building their gold holdings, but a sharp New Year's correction in 2017's hottest assets will surely see investors elsewhere rush to follow Germany's lead, albeit at higher prices. The best time to buy insurance remains when it isn't urgent."