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If asked to name the top performing commodity of the past decade, not many would answer silver because of its notorious volatility.
Yet, according to Lloyds TSB, silver prices have delivered the best gains since 2002.
Lloyds data shows that the shiny metal soared 572% over the past decade, beating gold's rise of 428%, which was second best among commodities.
Lloyds said silver beat gold because "[I]n addition to being perceived as a safe haven investment, high demand for industrial uses has also contributed to the strong rise in the price of silver."
The key question for precious metals investors is whether silver will continue to be a good performer in 2013.
Money Morning's Global Resource Specialist Peter Krauth thinks so. He forecasts that silver prices will hit "north of $60 per ounce" by spring.
If his forecast is on target, it bodes well for both holders of silver bullion and coins as well as for holders of ETFs such as the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE Arca: SLV).
Here are five key factors that show why Krauth's forecast for silver prices in 2013 could be right on the money.
One positive for silver has to be the aforementioned industrial uses.
At last month's Denver Gold Forum, the CEO of silver producer Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) Phil Baker made an interesting observation.
He said there was a parallel to what happened to silver usage at the turn of the 20th century to what is happening today. At that time, photography became a major driver of demand of the silver market.
This time though Baker believes it will not be one industry solely driving demand, but a myriad of new users of silver looking to take advantage of the metal's unique properties (such as electrical conductivity) in the electronics and medical fields among others.
Silver's expanding usage in a large number of industries may help to offset the general weakness in the global economy.
Another factor favoring silver prices is the continued investment demand for the precious metal from the average person around the world, due in large part to central bank policies.
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