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The average precious metal fund slumped 7.4% this week as commodities swooned.

Gold slipped another 2.2% as the U.S. dollar index strengthened by 1.5% against major currencies. Silver dropped 7.8%, and platinum shed 4.8% of its value. All performances were measured in the week ending June 18.

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The worst-performing precious metal fund was the

Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund

(VGPMX) - Get Report

, plunging 13% on declines of 21% in

Centerra Gold


, 19% in Eramet and 18% in



. Centerra is attempting to get its suspended Mongolian operating licenses reinstated. Lonmin's platinum sales are expected to fall short of estimates for its current fiscal year after a South African furnace had to be shut down to repair a leak.

The second-worst performer,

SPDR Metals & Mining ETF

(XME) - Get Report

, collapsed 12%. Weakness in copper prices dissolved 16% of shareholder value in

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Report


An oversupply of aluminum, up 86% to a record 4.32 million tons in warehouse stockpiles over the past year, dented Alcoa shares by 12%. United States Steel Corp. lost 12% as it renegotiated its debt to a higher interest rate. And the SPDR's holding that descended the most was coal miner

Massey Energy


, down 23%.

Looking at more of a pure play on precious metals, the

Oppenheimer Gold & Special Minerals Fund

(OPGSX) - Get Report

was decimated by 10% on losses of 25% in

Rio Tinto

(RTP) - Get Report

, 21% in

Coeur d'Alene Mines

(CDE) - Get Report

and 21% in

Hecla Mining

(HL) - Get Report


While no precious metal funds reported a positive total return for the period under review, gold is still in a long-term uptrend. The European Union removing fiscal stimulus sooner than the U.S. may strengthen the euro versus the U.S. dollar. This may spur the next move in gold and other precious metals.

For more information, check out an

explanation of our ratings


Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TSC Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering mutual funds. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.