UPDATE 1-SPDR gold fund reports first net inflow in 6 weeks

Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:51am EDT

* SPDR gold reports 2.71 tonne inflow on Tuesday

* Overall holdings up for first time since Feb. 7

* Gold in more demand after Cyprus bailout announced

By Jan Harvey

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - The world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, said its holdings rose 0.22 percent to 1,222.16 tonnes on Tuesday, its first one-day net inflow in nearly six weeks.

In volume terms, its holdings rose to 39.293 million ounces from 39.207 million ounces the previous day, their lowest level since July 2011.

The fund had recorded hefty outflows in the last six weeks, with its holdings falling more than 130 tonnes in the year to Monday. They remain down 128.7 tonnes, compared to a net inflow of 38.7 tonnes in the same period of 2012.

Gold prices have fallen in the same period, hitting a seven-month low at $1,554.49 in February.

They are set for their biggest weekly gain since November however, breaking back above $1,600 an ounce on Monday, after concerns over a bailout of debt-laden Cyprus sparked buying of the metal as a haven from risk.

"Investors took the initial move above $1,600 as an opportunity to sell 390,000 ounces (from ETFs) on Monday," UBS said in a note. "Yesterday, there was a small inflow... as investors responded to the rising tensions in Europe."

Exchange-traded funds, which issue securities backed by physical stocks of metal, have proved a popular way to invest in precious metals in recent years. The SPDR fund now holds more bullion than the central banks of Switzerland, Russia or Japan.

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