Investors continued to pour into precious metals in March, adding a hefty $1.2 billion into the mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that concentrate on the specialty sector.That brought the total flow of cash into the subsector for the first quarter to $3.6 billion as investors sought safe-haven assets amid the ongoing credit crisis, which brought investment bank Bear Stearns ( BSC) to its knees, surviving only after a rescue by JPMorgan Chase ( JPM - Get Report). But funds that solely held the metal won out over those that owned shares of mining companies by a factor of more than 5 to 2, according to the most recent data from Boston-based company Financial Research Corporation. Topping the list of winners, as it did every month last quarter, was the streetTracks Gold Shares ( GLD - Get Report) ETF, which solely owns bars of gold bullion, taking in a net $590 million. The other two precious-metals bullion funds, iShares Silver Trust ( SLV - Get Report) and iShares Comex Gold Trust ( IAU - Get Report), added $140 million and $139 million respectively, bringing the total added to the bullion group to $869 million. That compares with a monthly total of $336 million flowing into all the mutual funds that invest in the stocks of mining companies. The mutual fund taking in the most was the $2.2 billion Fidelity Select Gold ( FSAGX - Get Report), adding $172 million, while investors pulled out $25 million from $1.9 billion Market Vectors Gold Miner ( GDX - Get Report), the fund that lost the most during March. At least part of the reason for the success of the bullion products relative to their mining share-focused counterparts must be their relative ease of use, says Jean Marie Eveillard, portfolio manager of First Eagle Funds in New York, which runs the $1.2 billion First Eagle Gold ( SGGDX - Get Report).
|GDX vs. GLD|
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