European gold-backed exchange-traded funds added more than double the amount of tonnes that North American ones did in 2017, growing their assets by 13.9 percent, the World Gold Council said on Tuesday.

Though North America contained more than half the amount of global exchange-traded fund holdings, European funds added the most to their gold-backed ETFs last year. The additional 148.6 tonnes were valued at $5.8 billion.

“We believe that European investors were less certain about the economic recovery of their region and more worried about global instability than their U.S. counterparts,” said Juan Carlos Artigas, director of investment research for the World Gold Council, which publishes the monthly report, covering 75 gold-backed ETFs.

“And their interest rate levels remain quite low and in some cases are still negative, pushing investors to seek more alternatives to traditional investments.”

European funds captured 75 percent of global inflows, led by German-listed funds accounting for 35 percent of inflows, the council said.

“Consumer research indicates that in places like Germany, gold is often used as a long-term strategic asset,” Artigas said.

North American funds grew assets under management by adding 62.9 tonnes in 2017, a 5.6 percent increase, the council said. Flows were valued at $2.9 billion.

Asian funds lost 12.9 tonnes valued at $404.8 million in 2017, a 13 percent drop from the previous year, the data showed.

Global gold-backed exchange-traded funds added 197.5 tonnes in 2017, an 8.4 increase of assets under management. The flows were worth $8.2 billion. Total global assets under management for gold-backed ETFs for 2017 were valued at $98.1 billion.

For 2017, global net inflows spread across North America, Europe and Asia totaled 221.3 tonnes worth $9.1 billion, the council said. Flows out of global gold-backed ETFs totaled 23.8 tonnes worth $860.4 million. (Reporting by Renita D. Young; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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