2008 Precious Metals Performance: Gold, Silver, Platinum

 |  Includes: GLD, IAU, PTD, PTM, SLV
by: Michael Zielinski

As trillions of dollars in equity values were vaporized this year, a strong November and December performance pushed gold into positive territory by year end. Gold’s annual gain was 4.32%. This marks gold’s eighth consecutive annual gain. The “lost decade” for stocks, has been quite the opposite for gold. Silver and platinum were less fortunate, posting losses of 26.90% and 41.31% respectively.

(Figures calculated from Kitco’s London PM Fix prices)

The headline numbers only tell part of the story. I rounded up a bit more data which paints a more complete picture of the 2008 performance of gold, silver, and platinum.

Gold Silver Platinum
Dec 31, 2007 Close 833.75 14.76 1530.00
Dec 31, 2008 Close 869.75 10.79 898.00
Annual Change +36.00 -3.97 -632.00
Percentage Change +4.32% -26.90% -41.31%
2008 Low 712.50 8.88 763.00
Change from start to low -121.25 -5.88 -767.00
Percentage Change -14.54% -39.84% -50.13%
2008 High 1011.25 20.92 2273.00
Change from start to high +177.50 +6.16 +743.00
Percentage Change +21.29% +41.73% +48.56%
Click to enlarge

The first section of the table above shows the performance of gold, silver, and platinum from start to finish during 2008. The second section lists the lowest closing price for each metal during 2008, and calculates the percentage change from the start of the year to the low price. The final section lists the highest closing price for each metal during the year, and the percentage change from start of the year to the high price.

Some observations:

Often when the mainstream press writes about gold as a potential investment option, they usually caution that prices are “extremely volatile.” A look at the figures above shows otherwise. While it seemed like a year of extremes for gold, at its lowest it was down 14% and at its highest it was up 21%, probably making it one of the least volatile investments of 2008.

Platinum, which is starting to draw my interest, basically went straight up during the month of February to its peak price of $2,273 per ounce. Then it experienced three months of nearly continuous declines from mid-July to mid-October where it reached its low of $743 per ounce. At its high it was up nearly 50%, at its low it was down more than 50%. Briefly, the price of gold exceeded the price of platinum, but the situation has now reverted to the norm.

Silver experienced a similar plight, up more than 40% at its peak and down more than 40% at its low. The period of decline also took place from mid-July to mid-October. Many have pointed to the enormous concentrated short position taken by a handful of banks in July as responsible for the decline.

Disclosure: long physical gold, silver and platinum.