Gold drops below $1,200 per ounce level

<p>Gold has had a testing year.</p>

Precious metals investors will be hoping 2014 is a more positive year for gold, which has dropped in value significantly in the last 12 months.

Gold has now fallen beyond the $1,200 (£735) per ounce level. A year ago, it had been pushing towards $1,700, so the precious metal may be losing its reputation as the premier go-to investment in times of financial disarray.

The precious metal has dropped about a quarter of its value in the last 12 months, which is its biggest annual fall in price for more than 30 years, highlighting just how rare it is for gold to perform as poorly as it has this year.

With the likes of bitcoin taking up a lot of column inches in 2013, investors may have been concerned that the precious metal was going to be usurped.

However, experienced stock investor John Paul Whitefoot recently told Daily Gains Letter that the virtual currency's volatility makes it less of a safe haven than gold or silver, so it will not replace either of these precious metals in portfolios any time soon.

The future of gold

Business and economy editor for BBC Scotland Douglas Fraser stated that the future could be a little brighter for the precious metal, due to the fact that its qualities are increasingly being deployed in nanotechnology – from solar cells to anti-cancer drugs – with nanotechnology patents for the use of gold growing sharply in the last few months.

Gold investors are likely to be keeping a close eye on the technology world, as gold is increasingly being adopted by companies operating in this sector.

Mr Fraser said: "In the average smartphone, there's 0.02 to 0.03 grams of gold, used in micro-chips for its conductivity, including the touch-screen function. That's one reason why recycling old phones can be lucrative, if it's done at scale."

The economics specialist noted that in 2008, when stock markets were hit by the global financial crash, gold was trading at $832 per ounce. It then rose to a peak of $1,837 in July 2011, but has fallen away from those highs in the last 12 months.

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