I write this column at a time when metal prices have soared—and dipped—and many manufacturers wonder about where it goes next and how to respond. Speculative booms make us nervous. We can make some good guesses about certain prospects for the future. Gold, platinum, and silver production worldwide is not expected to rise much over the next few years. Demand for all three will rise, especially with China and India quickly becoming big jewelry markets. Industrial use is also rising; the dollar is expected to remain weak or fall further, especially as U.S. deficits and debt will continue to climb. And newly developed exchange trading has made it easy for individuals to invest in metals. Unless I’m crazy, that all points to higher prices. Jewelry accounts for significant portions of sales in these metals, so we can expect that price increases may be moderated, or even stabilized, i

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