During the height of gold’s bull run, market observers frequently complained that exchange traded products backed by physical holdings of bullion, including the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), were criticized for being the tail wagging the dog of the gold market.

Said differently, traders and investors were often stumped by what asset class truly moved the gold market: Futures or ETFs. Although investors have put money to work in gold ETFs this year, the predictive power of GLD and rival funds is seen as waning following a 2013 drubbing that saw GLD tumble 28.3%. [Glittering Gold ETFs for Portfolio Diversity]

“After a decade of changing mostly in tandem, gold prices and holdings in exchange-traded products backed by bullion have the most-negative correlation since 2004,” reports Debarati Roy for Bloomberg.

GLD and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSEArca: IAU) lost a combined $223.4 million in the week ended Aug. 27. Assuming those outflows stick, but COMEX gold finishes the week higher, this will be the fifth consecutive week gold futures and flows in or out of gold ETFs have diverged, according to Bloomberg.

ETF holdings of gold reside at 1,727.6 metric tons after slumping to a four-year low on June 20, Bloomberg 20. GLD is up nearly 5% this year, but inflows to gold funds have been modest. Combined, GLD, IAU and the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL) have added about $86 million in new assets this year.

Due to elevated geopolitical tensions and increased sanctions by the West against Russia, some investors have returned to gold ETFs in the current with GLD and IAU adding nearly $300 million combined since July 1. [Global Tensions Spark Slight Gold ETF Inflows]

After such a long stretch of equity market outperformance, many investors appear to be protecting themselves against rising geopolitical risk by adding perceived defensive assets such as gold to their portfolios. Last week when the gold price fell 0.6%, investors used the opportunity to add to allocations, with US$106.4mn flowing into physical gold ETPs (US$109.6mn into all long gold ETPs),” said ETF Securities in a note earlier this month.