Gold as an investment is considered an inflation hedge and protection against economic troubles. Gold the metal is used in manufacturing and jewelry as well as a store of wealth for investors. The recent history of gold prices has been very volatile.
From WWII until 1971, the U.S. fixed the price of gold at $35 per ounce. President Nixon eliminated the fixed gold price in 1971, allowing gold prices to move with market demand.
After the U.S. dropped the gold standard, gold prices crept up slowly, hitting $100 in May 1973. The price varied between $100 and $150 until the end of 1977. Gold moved steadily upward in 1978 and 1979 and peaked at $850 an ounce on Jan. 21, 1980
1980s and 1990s
Gold dropped in price $113 on Jan. 22, 1980, starting a long downward trend in price. The initial drop was to $315 in March 1982. Prices exceeded $450 at the end of 1982 and again in April through June of 1987, but the two-decade trend was lower prices. By late 2000, gold was around $250 per ounce.
The 21st century
Gold prices started a sharp climb in early 2002. It hit $400 in December 2003, $500 in December 2005 and $700 in May 2006. The previous record of $850 was passed on Jan. 2, 2008. Gold peaked at $1,011 on March 17, 2008.
From March 2008 until the end of July 2009 gold fluctuated between $750 and $1,000 per ounce. Only once, on Feb. 20, 2009, has the $1,000 mark been exceeded, but that was during trading, and the price closed the day at $989.
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