(Adds details from filings, comment)
By Marcy Nicholson
NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Hedge fund Paulson & Co kept its stakes unchanged in most of its gold investments in the first quarter, when the precious metal's price pared its gains, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed on Friday.
The New York-based fund, led by longtime gold bull John Paulson, kept his shares in SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed ETF, steady for the sixth straight quarter as the market continued to speculate on whether or not the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in mid-2015.
Paulson owned more than 10.2 million shares worth $1.16 billion in the ETF as of March 31, the filing showed.
Paulson also kept stakes unchanged in Africa's top bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti Ltd, IAMGOLD Corp and Novagold Resources Inc. Paulson eliminated its stake in Gold Fields Ltd.
Meanwhile, legendary investor George Soros of Soros Fund Management LLC, kept his stake unchanged in Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF at 761,000 shares, which were valued at $13.88 million, the filing showed.
"It's a good diversifier so why should you change your location?" said Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer of Palo Alto, California-based Merk Investments, with currency mutual-fund assets and the Merk Gold ETF worth roughly $300 million.
Merk was referring to gold.
"They all but promise to be behind the curve, meaning that real interest rates will not increase. If at all, they might even decrease over time," Merk said, referring to the Fed.
"That's relevant for gold because gold pays no interest, so if we have negative to zero interest that may be a factor to gold." (Reporting by Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Andre Grenon and Richard Chang)