Friday feeding frenzy for gold stocks

The gold price continued to build on recent gains making an assault on the crucial $1,300 level late on Friday, sending investors scurrying for gold mining stocks.

Bullion bulls are still nursing a 23% decline in the price of gold this year, but with the largest producers of the yellow metals showing declines of more than double that, many punters believe the bottom may now have been reached.

Beleaguered Barrick Gold Corp (TSX:ABX) gained 5% to $17.16 in heavy volumes, a four-week high, as the Toronto-based global number one gold miner continues to recover from 21-year lows.

Barrick is now worth $17.1 billion on the TSX, a more than $2.5 billion improvement within two weeks, but still nowhere near its market capitalization just two years ago of more than $54 billion.

The company's fightback comes despite continuing setbacks for its $8.5 billion (and counting) Pascua Lama project straddling the Chile-Argentina border.

Gains for Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE:NEM) with a market value of $14.3 billion were more modest with the Denver-based company adding 2.2%.

The world's third largest gold producer behind Newmont, AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) shot up 5.4%.

AngloGold announced Monday it will take a $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion charge as it comes to grips with a lower gold price.

Th Johannesburg-based company's ADRs listed in New York are still down a staggering 57% year to date as it struggles with unrest in the its home country's mining sector and falling gold output.

Fellow South African miner Gold Fields' (NYSE:GFI) showed an even stronger performance, adding 6.5% on the day – unlike AngloGold it said last week its annual production target of 1.9 million ounces will still be met.

Canadian gold counters Goldcorp (TSX:G) and Kinross Gold (TSX:K) – which this year overtook Goldcorp as the world fifth largest gold miner in terms of output – traded up 3.7% and 5.3% respectively.

Following the steep sell-off in Barrick, Goldcorp took the top spot as the world's most valuable listed gold miner.

After today's gains Vancouver-based Goldcorp's market value is $23.7 billion, making it the best performing gold major of 2013.

Australia's Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) missed out on the hefty gains in New York and Toronto and ended up 1.5% on the Sydney bourse.

The company in June announced $6 billion in writedowns and a dividend cut, but suspicious price movements ahead of the news prompted an investigation by Australian market regulators and possible class action lawsuits on behalf of shareholders, who have seen their investment in the Melbourne-based company more than halve this year.

Ever volatile Harmony Gold Mining (NYSE:HMY) added 7% in New York, but the Johannesburg-based company is still almost 60% cheaper than at the start of the year.

Harmony Gold now has the dubious distinction of being the worst performer in the sector year to date as it reassess operations in South Africa and Papua New Guinea.

Canada's Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI) jumped 3.6%, while Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM) gained 4.5% and Eldorado Gold Corp (TSX:ELD) added 5.6%.

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