Why is gold crushing the stock market this year?

by. Dan Caplinger

Earlier this month, the stock market celebrated the fifth anniversary of its current bull run, with major stock-market indexes having posted unusually strong gains of 25 to 35 percent in 2013. So far in 2014, though, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and other benchmarks have struggled to make any progress, while much stronger returns have come from an unexpected corner of the financial markets: gold.

With gains of about 15 percent so far this year, gold has surprised most people. But investors are more interested in whether the gains are sustainable — and whether gold can continue to outshine stocks in the future.

Where Gold Has Been

Until 2013, gold put together one of the most impressive bull-market runs for any asset class in history, with 12 straight years of gains from 2001 to 2012. Moreover, gold’s gains put the stock market’s returns to shame.

Certainly, stocks have produced strong returns for investors over the past five years, with the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI) having risen 150 percent since March 2009’s lows. But as impressive as that performance has been, it’s weak compared to the more than 500 percent gain for gold over that 12-year stretch.

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