Gold’s status as a safe-haven asset class was on full display Thursday. As U.S. stocks were punished, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) and rival gold-backed exchange traded funds gained half a percent.

Although at a snail’s pace, gold ETFs are also recouping some of the billions in assets lost last year. Globally, investors pulled $946 million from gold ETFs in January, but they returned to ETFs like GLD and the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL) in February and March, allocating a combined $858 million to gold funds in those two months. [Strong Demand Seen for Gold, Silver ETFs]

More importantly, GLD is now up 7.6% this year, but that may be a starting point, not the final chapter. With the benefit of hindsight, extreme pessimism against bullion late last year was a harbinger of positive things to come.

“That sort of pessimism is exactly how bottoms are born. So far this is playing out nicely. Today we’re looking at two charts of Gold, one is a daily and the other is a longer-term weekly to help put things in perspective,” writes Eagle Bay Capital President J.C. Parets.

Parets notes that although gold has pulled back a bit after surging to start the year, “momentum failed to reach any oversold conditions. This is generally a bullish characteristic.”

Then there is the demand equation. As GLD and rival funds were throttled last year, much attention was paid the loss of assets, or tons of gold, from those ETFs. What was not highlighted as much was that much of that gold was absorbed elsewhere.

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