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TheStreet Open House

Precious Metals Funds Flop This Week

For more coverage from TheStreet.com Ratings team, check out TheStreet.com Ratings section.

For the five trading days ending Thursday, Oct. 16, the average precious metals fund we track shed 17.0% of its value on an 11.9% drop in the price of gold to $804.60 an ounce.

IAMGold (IAG) CEO Joe Conway may be predicting $1,000 gold before year-end due to "massive financial market turmoil" and "significant monetary inflation," but the yellow metal is not cooperating.

The problem with the monetary inflation argument is that, even though banks may have money to lend, as we head into a recession there are fewer good credit risk companies and individuals trusted by these institutions to which they can make loans. Also, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Commodity Price Index is off about 40% since the end of June, which shows a decline in raw material costs.

The "lack of jewelry demand" was cited by John Reade, the head of Metals Strategies for UBS (UBS), as a reason for the downward pressure on the price of gold. In the largest drop on record, Friday's University of Michigan Survey of Consumer Confidence fell to 57.5 from 70.3 in September. In a recession, struggling consumers, shell-shocked from stock market losses, may be shunning gold jewelry in advance of the prewinter holiday shopping season.

The worst-performing precious metals fund this week is the ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector ProFund (PMPIX), which dove 32.60% on 150% leverage to the Dow Jones Precious Metals Index. This index follows U.S. stocks of companies that explore for and extract gold, silver and platinum ore.

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