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NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Hedge fund Paulson & Co maintained its stake in the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, for a third consecutive quarter in Q1, as bullion prices rebounded after notching their biggest annual loss in 32 years in 2013.
New York-based Paulson & Co, led by longtime gold bull John Paulson, owned 10.2 million shares in the ETF worth $1.27 billion on March 31, unchanged from its holdings on Dec. 31, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed on Friday.
That represents a gain of around $76 million as the price of gold gained 6.5 percent in the first quarter, following a drop of around 9 percent in the fourth quarter.
Rallying gold prices helped send Paulson's funds to strong gains in February.
In the second quarter of 2013, Paulson slashed its stake by more than half when bullion prices plummeted $225 between April 11 and 15, a record two-day drop for gold.
Investors pay close attention to the quarterly filings by Paulson and other notable hedge fund managers because they provide the best insight into whether the so-called "smart money" has lost faith in gold as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty. (Reporting by Frank Tang)