Business: More Mess for Metals

Plunging, surging and sliding along with gold and silver

Was it the start of a broad and bloody selloff, or just a brief interruption in the wild climb of gold and silver? That question last week taunted everyone from Middle East oil sheiks to Chicago secretaries. In the biggest one-day tumble in precious metals history, gold slumped a startling $145 per oz., or 18%, while silver dropped $10 per oz., or 22%. Yet prices began bouncing back up, sending investors on an unnerving joyride.

At various times during the week, gold sold for as much...

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