Gold prices and ETFs have traded in a relatively dull range around $1,700 an ounce since the summer sell-off, but that hasn’t shaken the faith of investors with a long-term bullish view on the precious metal.

Some investors and advisors allocate a small portion to gold as a hedge against inflation or another shock to the global financial system. Demand for gold from rising emerging nations and central banks is another factor supporting gold.

The largest physically backed gold ETF SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) is flat for the week after rallying Monday following comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on unemployment and the U.S. economy. Bernanke warned that the economy is still vulnerable to a slowdown. [Gold, Silver ETFs See Bullish Options Action]

Gold prices and the U.S. dollar have been sensitive to the outlook for further quantitative easing from the Fed. Loose monetary policies from central banks have been a key driver of gold prices in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Inflationary pressures are looming in many countries, including the U.S. Furthermore, higher oil prices would not only spark inflation, but hurt any potential economic recovery.

Gold has always been used as a hedge against inflation and also a safe haven in uncertain economic times. As macroeconomic uncertainty prevails in the U.S. and in Europe, gold prices could continue to climb higher. [Gold ETFs: Bullion or Mining Stocks?]