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LONDON -- The price of gold fell sharply on Tuesday this week and has now fallen 1.7% to $1,671 since last Friday.
Of course, the only practical way for most private investors to invest in gold is through exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The largest gold ETF, the $63 billion SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEMKT: GLD ) , has followed the yellow metal down by 1.5% since last Friday, closing at $161.69 on Wednesday night in New York trading. Meanwhile, London-listed Gold Bullion Securities (LSE: GBS ) has fallen 1.8% to $161.16 during the same time. Since the start of 2012, shareholders of Gold Bullion Securities have seen their holdings rise by 5.6%, while SPDR Gold Trust holders have gained 6.4%.
Gold's big movers
Many investors prefer to invest in gold mining stocks, rather than gold itself, as gold miners are able to use their operational gearing to outperform the price of gold. Let's take a look at some gold stocks that have gained strongly of late.
Centamin (LSE: CEY ) has rocketed 52% to 42 pence since markets opened last Friday, with the rally stemming from confirmation the miner would resume gold exports from Egypt. A temporary block on exports had left the embattled company short of cash to meet its operating commitments and forced the firm to halt operations at its Sukari mine. It's worth remembering that Centamin shares are still 56% down on three months ago, as a court case relating to the validity of the firm's mining concession in Egypt has still not been resolved.
Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG ) is up 7.3% to 362 pence this week, but the surge in its share price has nothing to do with gold. Petropavlovsk made strong gains after it reported that the iron ore output from IRC, a company in which it has a majority stake, has already exceeded this year's production target of 820,000 tonnes. IRC expects to produce a further 120,000 to 140,000 tonnes of iron ore before the end of the year.
Finally, Primero Mining (NYSE: PPP ) has gained almost 100% to $6.40 so far during 2012, making it one of the better performing gold stocks in a year that has seen many gold miners fail to capitalize on the high gold price. Primero's operations are located in Mexico and, earlier this week, the firm announced that it is to acquire Toronto-listed explorer Cerro Resources. The all-share deal aims to giving Primero access to Cerro's Cerro Del Gallo gold/silver operations in Mexico.
Shares vs. commodities
Shares in commodity companies have outperformed metal prices many times over during the last ten years, thanks to their ability to magnify their gains through successful development of new mines and resources. This free report from the Fool, "10 Steps To Making a Million From the Market" contains some excellent tips on identifying and investing in potential multibagger shares, including resource shares such as gold miners. I strongly recommend that you click here and download the report now, as it will be available for a limited time only.