Gold proved a good place to store wealth in 2012 and so it could be again in
Over the last 12 months the precious metal has gained around 6pc in value to $1,674 an ounce, driven by investors looking for safe havens from the eurozone, more quantitative easing from the US Federal Reserve, demand from central banks, and supply issues especially in South Africa.
A raft of commentators, brokers and industry participants predict it will climb higher, topping $2,000 and even rising as high as $2,500 by the close of 2013.
That looked a near-certainty in November when the Fed unleashed a third round of QE, a move that sent the gold price close to $1,800.
The mood has cooled since then, even though for the gold bulls the scenarios that drove the price higher in 2012 remain more or less intact.
Chief among these is the prospect of continued or even more QE in 2013 if the tentative US recovery seems in danger of stalling. This is, runs the theory, likely to undermine the US dollar, traditionally something that moves in the opposite direction to the gold price.
Central banks have also been increasing gold reserves, especially in emerging market countries due to concerns over paper currencies. The official sector has now been a net buyer of gold each year since 2009, as developed economies' central banks have sold increasingly small quantities of gold.
Gold is also likely to be classified a top-tier bank asset, meaning commercial banks would be able to lend against 100pc of their gold holdings rather than 50pc. And perhaps most importantly, there has been the growth of physically-backed exchange-traded funds, which track gold prices.
In the third quarter of 2012, global ETF holdings increased by 189 tonnes, a 56pc jump year-on-year, with holdings at record levels in the SPDR Gold Trust.
But despite the conviction of bullish investors, December saw a perceptible mood change.
Uncertainty sparked by the US fiscal cliff had an impact, but also a nagging doubt that the American economy may be doing better than expected may also be to blame.
Unemployment has fallen sharply and the US Fed has tied its QE programme to US job creation. Some whisper, albeit quietly, that even the eurozone may be over the worst.
None of this has yet meant too many changes in gold price forecasts, which range between a cautious $1,800 and an ultra-bullish $2,500 in 2013, but perhaps they are now written in heavy lead instead of ink.
Silver played its usual role as gold's understudy in the early part of last year but recently has been outstripping its more expensive cousin.
A recent survey by Bloomberg suggested this might continue as it came up with a median price of $40.25 an ounce next year, a 30pc rise. It put the surge in price down to a combination of little new supply coming on stream and improving industrial demand.
Platinum has been dominated by the industrial unrest in South Africa, which slashed production by 640,000 ounces during the year. The upshot was to eliminate a surplus overhang of the white metal and push prices higher.
Brokers expect more unrest in the current year especially when Anglo American publishes a review of its Amplats division, which may recommend mine closures. Morgan Stanley predicts the platinum price will average $1,715 in 2013, up from $1,538 in 2012.
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