Gold ETFs opened lower on the last day of the first quarter and are on track for a decline of more than 4% for the period amid record withdrawals from the precious metal funds.

SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), the largest bullion-backed ETF, has seen net outflows of $6.6 billion so far this year. The gold ETF still holds about 1,221 metric tons of gold and $62.9 billion of assets under management.

Holdings in gold exchange traded products fell 6.9% during the first quarter, Bloomberg News reports.

A resurgent U.S. dollar has weighed on gold prices this quarter. PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (NYSEArca: UUP) is on track for a gain of about 4% and is trading at its highest levels since August of last year. [ETF Chart of the Day: U.S. Dollar]

“The substantial ETF outflows are very worrying,” said Filip Petersson, a commodities strategist at SEB AB in Stockholm. They represent “a major bear trigger,” the strategist told Bloomberg.

Gold has enjoyed a 12-year bull rally but is down about 15% from its all-time high set in September 2011. George Soros is among the noted investors who have recently scaled back their holdings in GLD and other gold ETFs. [Gold ETFs Test Six-Year Support]

The precious metal is currently trading around $1,600 an ounce as traders keep a close eye on the unfolding banking crisis in Cyprus that has forced the Eurozone debt crisis back into the headlines.

Gold ETFs have been on the market for about a decade. There are now more than 54 physical gold exchange traded funds in the world, holding 81 million ounces of gold bullion worth $130 billion, with $2 billion of trading on stock exchanges each day, according to Boost Research.

Showing Page 1 of 2