London – US stocks are on track to become the top investment in 2013, with the S&P 500 index on course to mark its best year since 1997. The S&P index has risen 30.2% on a total return basis since January as investors bet the US economic recovery would accelerate, enabling the Federal Reserve to withdraw its monetary stimulus without disrupting growth. Japanese stocks are a close second with the Nikkei index rising 28.8% on a total return basis in 2013. Gold was the biggest loser with a year-to-date loss of 28.2%. Generally seen as a safe haven, gold has been hit by the improvement in risk appetite and expectations for a strong dollar, which would make gold more expensive as it is priced in dollars. Emerging markets fared poorly on concerns that the Fed’s move to scale back its stimulus programme will choke off capital flows into their economies, which benefited the most from cheap money. Local currency emerging debt is the third-worst performer of 2013, with losses of almost 9% while hard currency bonds have lost 6.5%. Commodities, which are non-yielding assets, have also suffered from the softer demand from emerging markets and a slowing Chinese economy.