Gold prices jumped above $1,400 (U.S.) an ounce on Monday for the first time in nearly seven weeks as violence flared in north Africa and the Middle East, raising interest in the precious metal as a haven from risk.
Bullion has risen 3.5 per cent over six days of gains, its longest winning streak since August, as protests that have unseated leaders in Egypt and Tunisia spread to neighbouring states, threatening the grip of long-entrenched autocratic leaders elsewhere.
Spot gold rose as high as $1,408.20 an ounce and was bid at $1,405.23 an ounce at 1900 GMT, up 1.2 per cent or $16.65 an ounce and within some $25 of an all-time high. Prices have risen from an almost four-month low of $1,300 in late January.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose $18.40 an ounce to $1,407.10, with trading volume about one-third the 30-day average due to the Presidents' Day U.S. holiday.
"The unrest and the fear in these countries is increasing," said Bayram Dincer, an analyst at LGT Capital Management in Switzerland. "These uncertainties on the geopolitical risk side are driving the gold market."
"See how easily gold broke $1,390, $1,395, which were strong resistance levels, and now the $1,400 psychological level," he said. "It seems nobody is looking for lower gold prices."
Other safe-haven assets also rose, with bund futures up and the Swiss franc gaining against the dollar and the €.-Brent oil prices meanwhile surged above $105 a barrel for the first time since 2008 as the turmoil hit oil supplies while European shares slipped.
Silver jumped 4.3 per cent to $33.85, hitting its highest since the Hunt Brothers surge 31 years ago and widening the gold ratio - the number of ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold dropping - to around 42, a near 13-year low.
VIOLENCE HITS TRIPOLI
Dozens of people were reported killed in Tripoli as anti-government protests reached the Libyan capital for the first time.
The Libyan uprising is one of a series of revolts that have spread across the Arab world since December, threatening entrenched dynasties from Bahrain to Yemen.
The protests have pushed gold higher even as interest in investment products like exchange-traded funds stayed soft.
Holdings of the world's largest gold exchange-traded fund, New York's SPDR Gold Trust, fell to a nine-month low on Friday at 1,223.1 tonnes, data from the fund showed.
"If (buying) is not through the exchange-traded funds or a clear change in the net long on Comex, it is most likely to be through the physical market - coin and small bar buying," said Daniel Major, an analyst at RBS Global Banking & Markets.
"I potentially wouldn't rule out larger purchases by high net worth individuals on the back of the unrest we're seeing."
OTHERS RISE TOO
Gold priced in euros hit its highest since Jan. 18 at 1,029.92 euros an ounce, and sterling-priced gold its highest since Jan. 14 at 868.06 pounds an ounce.
Platinum was at $1,846.45 an ounce against $1,833.50, while palladium peaked at $859.50 and was later at $853.88 against $848.25.
But silver led the way, jumping more than 10 per cent in three days, its biggest such rally since early November.
"We expect the combination of continued strength in investment demand and a sustained industrial demand recovery will support silver... this year before easing amid improved economic conditions in 2012," said Morgan Stanley in a note.