Gold strikes record price on inflation worries

Gold strikes record price on inflation worries

Singapore: Gold powered to a record above $1,160 an ounce on Monday after a rally in the dollar ran out of steam, strong oil prices resurrected inflation worries, and a drop in US stocks stirred doubt about the economic outlook.

Bullion, which has gained around 32% so far in 2009, struck a succession of lifetime highs in November as sentiment turned extremely bullish after India acquired 200 tonnes of the precious metal from the International Monetary Fund.

Gold was quoted at $1,162.85 an ounce by 9:24am, up $14.65 an ounce from New York’s notional close on Friday. It hit another record at $1,164.35 in thin trade also driven by technical buying after bullion surpassed previous records.

“We’re in unchartered territory. It’s going to move fairly freely. Momentum becomes quite a big driver of prices. You could see the hint of safe haven buying returning," said Mark Pervan, ANZ’s senior commodities analyst.

“There is increasing expectation that the market could deleverage risk towards the end of the year. There’s a view that we could see some selling in equity markets, that lowering a risk would also benefit gold prices."

US gold futures for December delivery added $16.7 an ounce to $1,163.50 on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, having struck a record at $1,164.80.

The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, said its holdings stood at 1,117.493 tonnes as of Nov 20, unchanged from the previous business day. Trading was thin, with Japanese speculators away on holiday, but dealers noted buybacks and limited scrap sales by jewellers in Asia on expectations that gold prices could rise further.

The dollar headed lower in thin trade on Monday, giving up some of last week’s gains, while oil rose above $78 a barrel on heightened tensions between Iran and Western nations.

In theory, a weaker dollar makes dollar-priced gold cheaper for holders of other currencies, while strong oil prices raise the metal’s safe-haven appeal against inflation.

“You’ve got more high-profile hedge funds visibly investing in gold. That’s yet another factor encouraging moves into gold by the wider investor community," said David Barclay, commodity strategist at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong.

Options traders are betting that gold will hit $1,200 an ounce or higher by early next year, and strong options interest could in turn lift underlying prices further into the uncharted territory.

US stocks fell for a third straight day on Friday as investors took weaker-than-expected results from computer maker Dell and homebuilder D.R. Horton as a further sign the recovery would be anemic.