Hedge funds' combined holdings in gold futures increased to the most bullish since January on mounting concern that conflict in the Middle East will boost crude-oil prices, slowing economic growth and stoking inflation. The net-long position rose 3.6 percent to 101,396 futures and options in the week ended Sept. 3, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Long wagers gained 0.6 percent and short bets contracted 8.6 percent, the fourth consecutive drop and the longest retreat in a year. Whenever you have period of unrest, war, or investor fear, people go to gold, said Dan Denbow, a fund manager at the $1.2 billion USAA Precious Metals & Minerals Fund in San Antonio. The longer-term focus that gold is not dead and there are reasons for owning it is why you're seeing bullish bets continue to grow in the space.