LONDON -- After falling sharply on Friday, gold prices have trod water this week. When U.S. markets opened on Thursday, gold on the December contract was down 1.6% over the last five trading days at $1,745.90.
Of course, the only practical way for most private investors to invest in gold is through exchange-traded funds. The performance of the $63 billion SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE: GLD ) dropped below that of its underlying commodity this week, falling 2.15% to $168.99 over the last five trading days, while the London-listed Gold Bullion ETF (LSE: GBS.L ) lost 2.3% to $168.30 over the same period. Both funds are up around 11% so far this year.
Gold's star performers
Many investors prefer to invest in gold mining stocks, rather than gold itself, as investing in miners offers the potential for leveraged gains on the price of gold. Let's take a look at some of the sector's recent risers.
Yamana Gold (LSE: YAU.L ) (NYSE: AUY ) has gained 25% to 1,239 pence in the last three months, adding £1.9 billion to the market value of this big-cap gold and silver miner. The company's share price has risen steadily since August, and Yamana's pipeline of development projects and exploration projects means that analysts expect production to increase by a further 60% by 2014.
AIM-listed Mwana Africa (LSE: MWA.L ) has gained 38% to 5.2 pence over the last three months. Gold production at this small-cap miner rose by 26% in the second quarter of the year and was 119% higher than in the same quarter last year. Mwana is also developing a 2 million ounce gold project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is also engaged in nickel and copper exploration projects.
Timmins Gold Corp (NYSE: TGD ) has gained 7% so far this week following an impressive production report that revealed the Mexico-focused gold miner had increased gold production by 45% in the third quarter, leaving the company on course to hit its 100,000 ounce per year production target. Shares in Timmins Gold have risen by 69% over the last three months.
Identifying growth shares
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Further investment opportunities: