So far, 2009 is shaping up to be a strong year for exchange traded funds (ETFs) if investor demand and the flow of assets in the first half are any indication.

According to Strategic Insight Mutual Fund Research and Consulting LLC, investors bought more ETFs in the first six months of 2009 than they did in the same period last year, reports Sue Asci for Investment News. But the question still remains: can ETF sales outpace last year’s record total of $176 billion in net inflows?.

Flows over the next few months are impossible to predict, especially since there’s still so much uncertainty about the direction of the markets and the pace of any recovery.

In the first six months of 2009, ETFs had net inflows of $35 billion, compared with $26 billion in the first half of 2008.

Among the strongest performers so far has been gold as investors seek to try and hedge inflation and economic uncertainty. Gold ETFs had $13 billion in net inflows. Natural resources followed, with $9 billion, and corporate bond ETFs saw $7 billion in inflows.

For more stories about asset flows, visit our ETF asset category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.