NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - New York-based Paulson & Co, led by longtime gold bull John Paulson, kept its stake in gold investments during the first quarter of 2018, while other heavyweights including Soros Fund Management LLC, Jana Partners LLC and Caxton Corp all remained unexposed to the metal.
The timing for Paulson appeared propitious given that during the first three months of the year, gold prices climbed slightly, though remained hemmed in a narrow trading range as selling pressure from rising U.S. interest rates and a strong U.S. dollar competed with support from geopolitical tensions.
Paulson & Co slightly decreased its stake in SPDR Gold Trust to 4.3 million shares in the first quarter of 2018 from 4.36 million shares the prior quarter. However, the value of the shares increased to $543.4 million from $539.1 million, a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed on Tuesday.
SPDR Gold Trust is the world’s biggest gold exchange-traded fund.
Paulson also left stakes unchanged in mining company AngloGold Ashanti Ltd though the value decreased by the end of the first quarter from the end of the fourth quarter.
Stakes in IAMGOLD Corp held by Paulson dropped from 3.9 million shares worth $22.5 million in the fourth quarter of last year to 3.2 million shares worth $16.4 million in the most recent filing.
Paulson kept shares in RandGold Resources Ltd and NovaGold Resources Inc unchanged, but the value of the latter increased from $86.4 million to $95.2 million in the first quarter of 2018.
During that period, spot gold prices rose about 1.7 percent, yet stayed within a tight trading range. Gold drew support from safe-haven buying related to geopolitical concerns including U.S.-China trade tensions and as the United States and European Union moved to expel Russian diplomats over accusations that the Kremlin played a role in poisoning a former Russian spy on British soil.
Pressure on gold came from a stronger U.S. dollar, talk of rising interest rates and strengthening global equities.
Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates because it does not bear interest. Since it is priced in the U.S. dollar, a stronger greenback makes bullion more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Meanwhile, CI Investments Inc, the investment arm of Toronto-based CI Financial Corp decreased its holdings in SPDR Gold Trust.
Its stake in Barrick Gold Corp was unchanged at 312,762 shares, but those dropped in value. CI Investments also decreased its holdings in Randgold Resources Ltd. (Reporting by Renita D. Young in New York Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Lewis)