Gold closes out worst year since 1981

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

The price of gold closed out its worst year since 1981 Tuesday as the U.S. economy improved, inflation remained at bay and worries about the financial system and gridlock in Washington faded.

Gold slumped 28 percent in 2013. The price peaked at $1,900 an ounce in August 2011 and has been declining more or less steadily ever since.

Traders had bid the price of gold higher partly out of fear that the Federal Reserve's aggressive easy-money policies would lead to inflation and weaken the U.S. dollar. When that didn't happen, demand for gold fell.

On Tuesday, the actively traded February contract for gold fell $1.50, or 0.1 percent, to $1,202.30 an ounce.

Silver for March delivery declined 24.5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $19.37 an ounce. Silver also had a bad year, falling 36 percent.

In other metals trading:

— Copper for March delivery rose 1.4 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $3.3965 a pound. Copper fell 7 percent for the year.

— Platinum for April delivery rose $6.60, or 0.5 percent, to $1,373.80 an ounce. It's down 11 percent for the year.

— Palladium for March delivery rose $7.50, or 1 percent, to $718.30 an ounce. For the year, it's up 2 percent.

Other commodities also had a bad year.

The price of corn plunged 40 percent in 2013 as it became clear that the U.S. crop would be huge, bouncing back from a severe drought the year before. The price of wheat also fell 23 percent for the year.

On Tuesday, the price of corn for March delivery fell 1.5 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $4.22 a bushel. It started the year at about $7 a bushel.

Wheat for March delivery rose 4.75 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $6.0525 a bushel.

Soybeans for March delivery fell 16.25 cents, or 1 percent, to $12.925 a bushel.

In energy trading, the price of crude oil fell 87 cents, or 1 percent, to $98.42 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to $2.79 per gallon, heating oil was unchanged at $3.08 per gallon and natural gas fell 20 cents to $4.23 per 1,000 cubic feet.

For the year, oil gained about 7 percent, heating oil and gasoline each rose 1 percent while natural gas jumped 25 percent.