Amid escalating tensions in Iraq and talk that interest rates in the U.S. and some other large developed markets are destined to remain low for the foreseeable future, exchange traded funds backed by physical holdings of gold have been performed admirably in recent weeks.

Over the past month, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) and ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL) are each up about 2%. Year-to-date, GLD is higher by nearly 8%, an impressive move considering gold ETFs were wracked by outflows and glum performances last year. [Safe-Haven Demand Lifts Gold ETFs]

However, some investors are cautiously approaching gold ETFs, if they are approaching the funds at all. Investors are losing interest in bullion trades, with physical gold assets in exchange traded products falling to the lowest since 2009, as the rally in the equity markets draws more people into riskier assets, Bloomberg reports.

There is additional evidence to suggest that the appetite among some bullion buyers in Asia is waning. Gold “exports of gold dropped 96.6 tonnes down 13.6% on April which was already a dismal month when exports plummeted 21%,” reports Frik Els for

Although Switzerland does not mine gold itself, it is the major export center for bullion to high-demand markets in the Far East, such as China and Vietnam. “Buyers in Asia have become less willing to pay high premiums for this gold. Shanghai premiums topped out at $37 an ounce above the London fix but has now returned to par (or below),” according to

Year-to-date, GLD has lost $463 million in assets while a combined $33 million has been pulled from IAU and SGOL.

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