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The curious rise of gold...

IF you are not a seasoned market-watcher, you may not have noticed that the market value of gold rose very sharply last year.

It was one of the biggest investment stories of 2009. Last month, gold prices hit $1,200 (e840) an ounce, though they have since fallen back to just over the $1,100 mark.

This is a far cry from 10 years ago, when gold was worth only $250 an ounce. Prices have risen steadily since the early noughties.

However, gold as an investment is a subject that causes some head-scratching.

"If you don't understand something thoroughly, then it is not worth investing in," says Gary Connolly, head of investments at Citadel. "I don't know how to value gold."

Gold seem to be attractive to some investors because it is widely viewed as a "store of value", or a safe bet in times of economic crisis and less likely to fall in value during these times as currencies, particularly the US dollar.

However, while the gold market price is normally influenced by supply and demand (such as for jewellery), recent gains in the market have been driven by speculators, leading to concerns about another market 'bubble'.

Mr Connolly is cautious for exactly this reason, but he is also cautious about being too negative, as prices may still have further to go. "For now, I would say tread cautiously, and if investing in it, do it in very small size."

Eamon Porter, principal at Aspire Wealth Management, also cautions against investing in gold, as he believes it will fall from its recent highs.

"Leaving aside consumer-led demand for jewellry and specialist electronic components, many investors look at gold as a hedge against the dollar. If the dollar strengthens, then the gold price will start to fall back," he says.

Irish Independent