To say these are go-go days for gold and silver prices would be an understatement. Historically known as an inflation-fighting safe-haven investment, gold just wrapped up a weekly performance that any asset would be envious of. In five trading days, the yellow metal managed to touch a new all-time high each day.
When all was said and done on Friday, NYMEX-traded gold for June delivery settled a $1,474.10 an ounce, just below the all-time high of $1,476.20 earlier in the session. Silver's performance was stellar as well. The white metal that has many more industrial uses than gold, traversed $40 for close at $40.61, it's highest closing price since 1980 when the notorious Hunt Brothers cornered the silver market.
With performances like those, it's safe to say that investors are clamoring for ways to get involved with gold and silver. Fortunately, there is no shortage of options. Beyond the futures market and owning physical gold and silver, investors can take part in upside for both metals through mining stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs).
ETFs such as the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE: GLD), the second-largest ETF in the world by assets, and the iShares Gold Trust (NYSE: IAU) offer exposure to physical gold and intimately track gold's price action. The iShares Silver Trust (NYSE: SLV) and the ETFS Physical Silver Shares (NYSE: SIVR) are the equivalent ETFs for those seeking physical silver holdings.
Another option is mining stocks. Stocks of the companies that mine gold and silver can be potentially lucrative investments because they have a tendency to actually perform the spot prices of the metals they produce.
For example, gold prices were up 3.2% for the week, but shares of Goldcorp (NYSE: GG), a major gold miner, were higher by nearly 11%. Other gold miners to consider would be Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX), Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM) and Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM).
When it comes to silver miners, the disparity between their performances and silver's actual price is just as pronounced as it is with gold and gold miners. How about this example: SLV was up 8.1% for the week. Pan American Silver (Nasdaq: PAAS) was up over 8% on Friday alone. Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW), another silver miner to consider, also outperformed the metal on a weekly basis.
For the investor that is truly ready to take on some risk, Peru's Buenaventura Mines (NYSE: BVN) could have some potential as the South American country is the world's largest silver producer and a top-five gold and copper miner. That said, the stock's performance has been nothing short of disappointing recently, so some caution is needed with this name.
Can't decide on a specific miner? Don't worry because ETFs have you covered. For those seeking exposure to large-cap gold miners, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX) is the way. And yes, GDX often does outperform gold prices. For those willing to speculate on small-cap mines, there is the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDXJ), perhaps the best option for small-cap mining exposure.
If you just can't decide between Pan American and Silver Wheaton, get them both with the Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE: SIL). SIL is less than a year old, but has accumulated $642.6 million in assets under management since its debut last April. That's an amazing haul in just a year and shows SIL was one of the best new ETFs to come to market in 2010.