Gold closes out 2010 on high note

Today's gains put the final flourish on a blowout year. Meanwhile, the metal could test its record high in January.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 31, 2010 12:44PM

commodities news and stock picks from thestreetGold © Comstock Images/JupiterimagesBy Scott Eden, TheStreet

Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET


Gold prices settled higher on New Year's Eve, putting an appropriate cap on another year of record returns for the yellow metal.


Gold for February delivery gained $15.50 to settle at $1,421.40 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold traded as high as $1,422 and as low as $1,404.60.

The strong finish puts gold up almost 30% compared to its close of $1,095.90 at the end of 2009.


The U.S. dollar index was falling 0.4% to $79.17, while the euro was up 0.4% to $1.33 vs. the dollar. The spot gold price was adding $15.20, according to Kitco's gold index.


Extremely light trading volumes had a "vacuum trade" effect, pushing gold prices higher, said Darin Newsom, senior commodities analyst at Telvent DTN in Baltimore.

More fundamentally, however, Friday's action put to bed for good the fear among some investors that an end-of-the-year sell-off awaited gold and other hot commodities markets. The lessons of 2010's wild ride in commodities of all kinds were topmost on the minds of many investors and traders. "Commodities are no longer short-term investments," Newsom said, reflecting on those lessons. "The day of the day trader is gone."


Looking ahead to next year, many gold bulls are calling for the metal to surpass $1,600 an ounce. Newsom said that midway through January, gold prices may begin to test the record high of $1,432.50, reached earlier in December. "I think we'll probably test that high, take out that high, and then we'll have see what these outside markets will do," Newsom said, referring to equities, the U.S. dollar and other commodities such as crude oil.

Money could move out of gold into other markets, in other words -- or vice versa. Nonetheless, there's more than enough economic and political uncertainty in the world, Newsom said, that investors will almost certainly continue to burnish gold's status as the best haven available.


Silver prices gained 42 cents to settle at $30.94 per ounce, capping an explosive year, while copper added 8 cents to finish at $4.45 per pound, setting another record high.


The gold exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) was up 1.1% to $138.51 Friday.

Gold mining stocks, a risky but potentially profitable way to bet on gold, were mostly in the green. Shares of Newmont Mining (NEM) were rising 0.7% to $61.48, while Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) was adding 1% at $120.08. Yamana Gold (AUY) was adding 0.9% to $12.80, and Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM) was gaining 0.2% to $76.62.


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Dec 31, 2010 2:15PM
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