In what is likely the no-brainer of the year, investors looking for a market-beating opportunity right now should consider turning to gold. The two leading physical gold ETFs — SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD) and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSE:IAU) — are both up 18% year to date in 2011. That’s even after gold prices have rolled back from highs over $1,900 this summer to under $1,700 right now.
Gold mining stocks had been outperforming the market nicely this year until a few weeks ago when the bottom fell out of the sector as gold prices flopped. The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDX) has suffered a 10% drop in less than a month to put it in the red so far this year — but as recently as September, GDX was sitting on a 5% gain in 2011. There is a chance that this fund is a bit oversold as miners like Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) and Goldcorp (NYSE:GG) have been held back in recent weeks.
As investors look to take shelter in hard assets, gold is one of the big fall-back investments right now. These ETFs provide an easy way to play the gold rush without worrying about storing physical gold bars in your basement.