The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, which tracks 39 gold-mining companies, has soared 26% so far this year, compared with a 8.9% rise in gold and a 4.5% increase in the S&P 500.... Gold stocks tend to outpace gold's losses when gold falls, and overshoot its gains when prices rally. Now, the prospects for gold are promising, some investors say, but those for gold miners are even better. Flare-ups in Ukraine and the Middle East have prompted fund managers to pile back into relatively safe investments like gold, pushing up prices on those haven assets.

The gold-miner rally is a boon for high-profile hedge-fund managers such as George Soros and John Paulson--as well as traditionally gold-focused traders like Peter Palmedo and Eric Sprott. Their gold bets were pummeled last year, when a rise in bond yields and muted inflation dulled gold's allure, sparking a stampede that drove the precious metal's price down 28% and the gold-mining index down 54%.

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