Gold exchange traded funds took a hit this week after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy is sending mixed signals. His comments tempered speculation that more quantitative easing from the central bank is imminent.

Gold prices and ETFs such as SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEArca: GLD) fell sharply on Wednesday but the metal held at $1,700 an ounce. The largest gold ETF saw one of the biggest one-day losses since late September 2011.

GLD lost more than 5% on Wednesday. Volume was triple the average for this $69.8 billion fund, reports Claudia Assis for MarketWatch.

Analysts argue that most of gold’s run-up has simply been based on QE3 hope, and Bernanke’s announcement took that element away. [Gold Miner ETFs Ride Bullion Toward $1800]

GLD is often looked at as a proxy for gold futures, due to its ease of trading and its liquidity. GLD has gained about 8% in 2012, while the precious metal has gained about 9%. Holdings in GLD have risen about 3.1% in 2012. [ETFs and the Gold/Silver Ratio]