(Bloomberg) -- Gold just got a very bullish sign from investors who are returning to the precious metal in a big way. 

SPDR Gold Shares, the largest bullion-backed exchange-traded fund, on Friday recorded its biggest net inflow in dollar terms since listing in 2004 -- worth $1.63 billion. Changes in ETF holdings are monitored as a gauge of investor interest in longer-term bets on gold. Holdings slumped in 2021, a lackluster year for gold prices.

The jump comes before this week’s pivotal Federal Reserve meeting, which economists expect will signal a March start for rate hikes. Even as the Fed gets ready to tighten, which could damp the appeal of non-interest bearing bullion, demand for the haven is getting support from the drop in equities, U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine, and the plunge in Bitcoin.


“The recent surge in market volatility, the rise in geopolitical tensions and the slump in crypto prices most likely increased the appeal of gold as safe haven,” said Robin Tsui, Asia Pacific gold strategist, Global SPDR Business at State Street Global Advisors, the marketing agent for SPDR Gold Shares.

In tonnage terms, Friday’s net inflow was 27.6 tons. The strong showing came on a day when the spot price slipped 0.2%, although it still held near a two-month high. 

Gold had an unremarkable 2021 after hitting a record in 2020. With global central banks starting to reduce pandemic-era stimulus, and Covid-19’s omicron variant less damaging than feared, investor enthusiasm for bullion has wavered. Last year, the SPDR gold ETF posted its biggest annual outflow in tonnage terms since 2013.

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