Gold held by bullion-backed ETFs, which in 2012 accounted for 6% of the world’s gold demand, fell by 177 metric tons in the first quarter, according to the World Gold Council.

Gold-backed ETFs  “have seen some holders, primarily in the U.S., collect profits and move into equities,” said Marcus Grubb, a managing director at the WGC. While gold ETF holdings are down, this has been balanced by investment in bars in coins, which increased 10% in the first quarter from the year-ago period, he added.

“We’re still seeing ETF liquidation. It’s driving prices down,” said Jim Steel at HSBC in a Financial Times story. Gold futures were trading below $1,400 an ounce on Thursday.

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Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own GLD.

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