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The Gold Market


 

Eternally attractive to mankind, gold has found its principal use as a store of value. Its beauty has made it popular in decoration. Gold has also become an increasingly important industrial metal. Because of its rarity and its durability, gold has been almost universally acceptable as money for thousands of years.

Gold is the most prominent of the noble metals (gold, silver, platinum, and other platinum group metals), so termed because of their inertness, or reluctance to enter into chemical reactions. Gold will not react with common acids.

Gold, the most famous of all precious metals, is widely sought after throughout the world for both its investment qualities and industrial properties. Indeed, gold traditionally has served three functions: as a monetary instrument, as a financial asset, and as a raw material primarily used in jewelry and decorative objects.

As an investment, gold typically is viewed as a financial asset that will maintain its value during times of political, social, or economic distress. As such, gold can provide individual and institutional investors alike with a portfolio safety net against sharp downward spikes in complementary assets such as stocks and bonds.

While investment demand is important, the largest use for gold is in jewelry, with the majority of use occurring in the United States , Japan , Italy , India , China , and Thailand . Jewelry production has been growing at a robust pace in the developing countries of Southeast Asia and the Middle East since 1988. Gold also is used in electronic connectors and dental alloys.

Gold is mined in more than 76 countries around the world, with the large number of development projects in these countries expected to keep production growing well into the next century. Currently, South Africa is the largest gold producing country, followed by the United States , Australia , and Canada .

Since the dawn of time, an estimated 3.8 billion ounces of gold have been extracted from the ground. Of this, all but around 432 million ounces are believed to exist in bullion holdings, jewelry, and decorative items.

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