The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is being dragged lower by falling commodity prices and weak leads from international markets overnight. Crashes in oil and iron ore prices saw major US and European markets sold off as investors’ fears over China were reignited.

With Australia’s own ASX 200 down around 7.3% in 2016, so far, it appears uncertainty is everywhere. Investors are worried about the consequences of 11-year lows in oil prices (personally, I’m just thankful for the cheaper petrol prices).

A winding down of the mining boom also appears to have rattled economies dependent on raw material exports, such as Australia, South Africa and Canada. While almost everyone is fretting the consequences of a slowing Chinese economy.

Step up, gold shares

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of shares outperforming on the ASX today are gold miners.

Gold miners (or just gold more broadly) are often perceived as a ‘hedge against uncertainty’. It’s a self-reinforcing perception that has worked for speculators in the past, during hard times like the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

However, while speculating on rises in gold prices is risky, betting on a rise in gold shares is even riskier. In my opinion, gold has no place in an investor’s portfolio for anything other than speculation. And even if you do speculate on gold, it’s probably not worth the risk or the effort.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a  financial interest in any company mentioned.

Owen welcomes your feedback on Google plus (see below), LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.