On Thursday, the price of gold set a new all time high of $958.40 per ounce. The average precious-metals fund we track climbed 5.81% for the five trading days ending Feb. 21.

Click here for larger image.

Source: Bloomberg

The higher price for gold boosted the fourth-quarter performance, before one-time charges, for the largest gold miners

Barrick Gold

(ABX)

,

Newmont Mining Corp

(NEM) - Get Report

and

Goldcorp

(GG)

above analyst estimates.

All of these are holdings of

ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector ProFund

(PMPIX) - Get Report

PMPIX, which jumped 11.93% for the period under review. This open-end fund is leveraged 150% to the mining shares in the Dow Jones Precious Metals Index. Of the top ten members of the index, the biggest winners were

Harmony Gold Mining

(HMY) - Get Report

, up 19.84%;

Gold Fields

(GFI) - Get Report

, up 15.65%; and

Goldcorp

(GG)

, up 12.48%.

In second place is

ASA Ltd

(ASA) - Get Report

, a closed-end, gold mining share fund up 7.77% for the week. A close third place goes to

GAMCO Gold Fund

(GOLDX) - Get Report

earning a total return of 7.54%. GAMCO's best performing holdings include

New Gold

(NGD) - Get Report

up 36.96%,

Gammon Gold

(GRS)

up 32.40%, and Harmony Gold Mining up 19.84%.

Best Performing Precious Metals Funds
Ranked by returns for the week ending February 21

Fund

Ticker

Rating

Fund Type

1 Week Total Return

ProFunds Precious Metals UltraSector ProFund

PMPIX

C-

Open-End

11.93%

ASA Ltd

ASA

C+

Closed-End

7.77%

GAMCO Gold Fund Inc

GOLDX

C+

Open-End

7.54%

DWS Gold & Precious Metals Fund

SCGDX

C

Open-End

7.22%

Midas Fund

MIDSX

B

Open-End

7.20%

Rydex Series - Precious Metals Fund

RYPMX

C+

Open-End

7.06%

American Century Global Gold Fund

BGEIX

C+

Open-End

7.01%

RiverSource Precious Metals and Mining Fund

INPMX

C-

Open-End

6.98%

Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF

GDX

B+

ETF

6.95%

Van Eck International Investors Gold Fund

INIVX

C

Open-End

6.72%

Source: Bloomberg.

For an explanation of our ratings,

click here.

The

ING Global Natural Resources Fund

(LEXMX)

underperformed this week due to a share allocation of 51.5% oil and gas, 21.0% mining, and 14.8% oil & gas services. Last week, when crude oil topped $100, was the time to be concentrated in "black gold." This was the week for yellow gold.

As usual, the bullion funds directly tracking the price of precious metals lagged the leverage performance of the mining shares.

Worst-Performing Precious Metals Funds
Ranked by returns for the week ending February 21

Fund

Ticker

Rating

Fund Type

1 Week Total Return

ING Global Natural Resources Fund

LEXMX

B-

Open-End

2.55%

Gabelli Global Gold Natural Res & Inc Trust

GGN

B+

Closed-End

2.68%

PowerShares DB Silver Fund

DBS

A+

ETF

3.32%

iShares Silver Trust

SLV

B-

ETF

3.56%

PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund

DBP

A+

ETF

3.88%

Streettracks Gold Trust

GLD

A+

ETF

3.95%

iShares COMEX Gold Trust

IAU

A+

ETF

3.96%

PowerShares DB Gold Fund

DGL

A+

ETF

3.97%

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF

XME

B+

ETF

4.05%

US Global Investors Gold and Precious Metals

USERX

B

Open-End

4.76%

Source: Bloomberg.

For an explanation of our ratings,

click here.

The U.S. dollar seems poised to return to its long-term downward trend against the major world currencies. As that happens, I would not be surprised to see gold top $1,000 per ounce over the next year.

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.