Continuing a theme that has been seen throughout much of 2018, investors departed gold exchange traded funds in September, according to a new a report from the World Gold Council (WGC).

The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), the largest physically backed gold-related ETF on the market, and other gold ETFs have been flailing this year as the U.S. dollar rallies. GLD is down more than 8% year-to-date and has not traded above its 200-day moving average since late April.

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Investors have turned to GLD as a quick and easy way to gain exposure to gold price movements as they hedge against market risks, help protect their purchasing power in times of inflationary pressures or capitalize on increasing demand from the emerging markets with a growing middle-income class.

“Holdings in global gold-backed ETFs and similar products fell by 23.7 tonnes(t) to 2,329t in September – the fourth consecutive month of falls – equivalent to US$932 million in outflows. This, in addition to a drop in the gold price of 1.1% during the month, pushed assets under management (AUM) in US dollars down by 2.3% relative to August,” according to the WGC.

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Investors have been shunning physical assets like gold in face of further interest rate tightening out of the Federal Reserve amid a robust U.S. economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said earlier in August that gradual rate hikes will come, and with inflation still low, there was little concern over the economy overheating.

“Flows in North American gold-backed ETFs were mixed, but ultimately negative: funds with lower management fees had robust inflows that were offset by outflows in SPDR Gold Shares (GLD),” said the WGC. “In our view, this highlights appetite for buy-and-hold investing versus selling pressure from short-term tactical positions. Europe and Asian funds experienced net outflows again in September after growing slightly in August. In all, trading volumes in gold-backed ETFs were light during September, falling 30% versus the y-t-d average.”

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