Gold mining company shares rose on the last trading day of 2011, tracking gains in the precious metal itself and outperforming the broader equity markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.17 percent, the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.03 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.06 percent.

The most actively traded gold contract on the Comex climbed 2 percent in light trading.

Shares of large gold mining companies and gold exchange-traded funds were up. Barrick Gold Corp. added 1.15 percent, Goldcorp Inc. climbed 1.63 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. was up 1.77 percent and Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. increased 1.96 percent.

The NYSE ARCA Gold Bugs Index was up 0.72 percent.

The world's largest gold-back exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, increased 1.56 percent, the ETFS Gold Trust rose 1.61 percent and the iShares Gold Trust gained 1.66 percent.