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Bullion takes a rest

Gold and other precious metals were on my mind for a time during the Labor Day weekend. After the hot dogs, corn on the cob and the lawn mowing were over, I updated my price log.

I haven’t done this since July 20, what with the preparations for the American Numismatic Association convention and its aftermath, including a vacation.

While this is a purely mechanical process and some might think unnecessary in the computer age, it gives me a chance to play with the numbers and think about them. I have been doing this on an off for almost 40 years, starting when I delivered the Des Moines Register in 1968.

What I find interesting about the numbers in the latest period is that gold ended almost where it began. On July 20 it was at $683.90 a troy ounce. On Aug. 31, it was $673. Yes, that is down $10.90, but that is hardly a blip on the radar in a market that fluctuates every business day.

What was more interesting was platinum and silver. They were significantly weaker. Platinum dropped by 5.78 percent in the period while silver was down 9.4 percent.

People who pay attention to the financial markets know how rocky it was for the stock and bond markets and they might conclude that the weakness in bullion was due at least in part to the turmoil on the world’s financial markets. That seems to be a logical conclusion.

Another interesting tidbit is that the metals are reasonably close to where they were one year ago. Platinum is about $20 higher, silver is less than a dollar lower and gold is nearly $50 higher. That might qualify them as being stable, especially in a trading environment where they can jump up or drop that annual difference in just a day or two.

Some numismatic collecting seasons are overshadowed by what bullion is doing. This doesn’t appear to be one of them.