MIDAS SHARE TIPS: Even the Kremlin’s backing gold – so should you?
At the beginning of February, gold was changing hands at $1,798 (£1,351) a troy ounce. By the end of last week, the price had risen to more than $1,900.
Bullion specialists such as the Pure Gold Company have been deluged with enquiries as investors large and small consider whether to put their money into the precious metal.
Gold is a traditional safe-haven asset. It can be bought or sold across the world, comes into its own when financial markets are nervous and retains its value over decades, even during periods of high inflation.
Sparkle: Gold comes into its own when investors start to get nervous
Central banks recognise gold’s worth, having increased their holdings steadily since the financial crisis and owning more than 35,000 tons today.
Putin is a big fan too. Russia has built up its gold stores steadily over the past 20 years and now owns almost 2,300 tons, making its central bank the sixth largest holder in the world, behind America, Germany, the International Monetary Fund, Italy and France.
Where clever central banks go, individual investors may choose to follow because gold is not just an asset worth having in tough times, but over the long term too. Painstaking analysis from the World Gold Council, which aims to be the global authority on the metal, shows that over the past ten, 20 or even 50 years, gold performs as well as or better than most other assets.
Looking back over the past decade, gold has delivered average annual returns of 4 per cent, with demand coming from both financial investors and consumers in markets such as China and India, where gold is an integral part of the culture.
That growth should continue and even accelerate as geopolitical tensions rise, inflation picks up and economies come under stress.
Midas verdict: With the gold price at near record highs, investors may be wary of buying large amounts now. But long-term investors should take comfort in gold’s track record and even shorter-term buyers should use any sign of weakness to add gold to their portfolios.