LONDON -- Gold on the February contract has made modest gains since last Thursday, and is currently up 1.6% on last Thursday's opening price, at $1,670.
Of course, the only practical way for most private investors to invest in gold is through exchange-traded funds. The largest gold ETF, the $63 billion SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEMKT:GLD), has slipped 1.2% to $161.70 since last week, while London-listed Gold Bullion Securities (LSE:GBS) has gained 0.67% to $161.23 over the same period. Over the last 12 months, shareholders of Gold Bullion Securities have seen their holdings rise by 1.6%, while SPDR Gold Trust holders have gained 2%.
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 recently.
Centamin (LSE:CEY) has soared 32% to 51 pence this week, after the Egyptian gold miner said that despite recent disruptions, gold production set a new record of 85,543 ounces in the fourth quarter, a 40% increase on Q3. This record output brought full-year production to 262,958 ounces, a 10% increase on 2011 and above the company's guidance of 250,000 ounces. Centamin also confirmed that gold exports had been allowed to continue during January but, in spite of all the good news, it's worth remembering that the firm still trades 46% lower than three months ago.
Shanta Gold (LSE:SHG) is up 7% to 19 pence today after confirming that it had signed a new $30 million debt facility. Shanta says the new debt will be used to repay outstanding loans and provide the firm with "appropriate cash headroom" during the ramp-up of its New Luika gold mine in Tanzania, which produced its first gold pour in August 2012 and is currently ramping up to full production capacity.
Pan African Resources (LSE:PAF) is up 10% to 19 pence so far this year, continuing the solid and profitable progress that has seen the firm's shares rise by an incredible 3,700% over the last 10 years -- an outstanding example of the potential offered by small miners. Pan African will shortly close a rights offer that is required to fund the purchase of Evander Gold Mines. U.K. shareholders have had the chance to buy Pan African shares at 14 pence, a substantial discount to their current price of 19 pence.
Shares vs. commodities
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