Gold ETFs post longest run in a decade as investors take cover

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Singapore: As global tensions escalate and signs of a slowdown mount, more investors are turning to gold. Worldwide holdings in bullion-backed exchange-traded funds have expanded for 17 days in a row, the longest run of inflows since 2009.

The total stash now stands less than 35 tons away from a record set in 2012, according to the latest tally by Bloomberg. The consistent influx has come even as prices struggled to extend gains above $1,500 an ounce in recent weeks.

Bullion has climbed 18% in 2019 as the US-China trade war hurts global growth and central banks loosen policy.

The rise in ETF holdings comes as investors fret that high-level talks between Washington and Beijing set for later this week are unlikely to yield a breakthrough. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted on Tuesday at the possibility of another interest rate cut.

"Gold inflows are likely to persist," Citigroup Inc. said in a note, sticking with its forecast for a rally to $1,700 an ounce over six to 12 months. "Markedly weak manufacturing and services ISM data show that the slowdown in global trade is starting to bite the US economy."

Gold futures, a traditional haven and beneficiary when investors shun risk, advanced on Wednesday ahead of the trade talks and as markets awaited minutes from the Fed's September meeting. Prices pared gains before bouncing off the day's lows as investors weighed whether news that China is said to be open to agreeing to a partial trade deal would be enough to damp the precious metal's haven appeal.

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