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Investors boost gold assets in world's top ETF by most since 2011

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Holdings in SPDR Gold Shares, the world's largest exchange-traded fund backed by gold, surged 20.8 metric tons on Monday, the biggest one-day expansion since 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

[NEW YORK] Investors are piling back into gold, and they're coming in droves.

Holdings in SPDR Gold Shares, the world's largest exchange-traded fund backed by gold, surged 20.8 metric tons on Monday, the biggest one-day expansion since 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

About US$7.1 billion in new money poured into SPDR Gold this year, the most of any ETF tracked by Bloomberg around the world, as holdings soared to the highest since 2013.

Bullion prices traded above US$1,300 an ounce for a second straight day, before closing lower. Prices have rallied 22 per cent this year, as investors returned to the precious metal after three straight years of losses that were the worst run since 1998.

Sentiment turned as risks to the global economy prompted the Federal Reserveto signal it will take a slow approach to raising interest rates. Lower rates are a boon to precious metals, which don't offer yields or dividends. A weaker dollar has also helped gold.

"If we have a close of US$1,300 or better, you're going to start to see more fund managers and asset allocators getting questions from shareholders" about whether they have gold in their portfolio, George Gero, a managing director at RBC Wealth Management in New York, said in a telephone interview.

"Continued worries about China, continued worries about the euro zone, keep interest rates benign, keep currencies weak, and so investors are looking for liquid, convertible gold to help them through this period."

The European Commission warned on Tuesday of slower-than-predicted growth across the 19-nation bloc and urged the area's largest economies to reduce debt and modernize labor markets.

In China, a private gauge of manufacturing slipped in April, underscoring pockets of weakness in an economy weighed by overcapacity and weak external demand. The Bank of Japan refrained from adding stimulus last week, hurting the dollar and helping boost the appeal of the precious metal as alternative assets.

Gold futures for June delivery fell 0.3 per cent to settle at US$1,291.80 an ounce at 1:50 pm on the Comex in New York. On Monday, prices reached US$1,306, the highest for a most-active contract since January 2015.

The likelihood of higher US rates by year-end is 55 per cent, down from about 93 per cent in January, futures data show. The "new normal" for interest rates might be lower than the Fed's median estimate, San Francisco Federal Reserve President John Williams said at a conference on Monday.

The US expanded just 0.5 per cent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in two years. This week, the release of monthly employment figures will provide clues on the strength of the world's biggest economy and help shape the outlook for US monetary policy.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn said his stake in gold is poised to generate profits as central banks around the world continue to ease monetary policy.

Discussing the results for reinsurer Greenlight Capital Re Ltd Tuesday, Mr Einhorn criticized the European Central Bank's "kitchen-sink policy" of record-low borrowing costs, expanded asset purchases and borrowing subsidies.

He also said the Bank of Japan's negative interest rate policy and reduced forecasts for US rate hikes may contribute to boosting the value of gold.

BLOOMBERG