A tumbling dollar and strong oil prices prompted investors and speculators to buy gold heavily on Tuesday, with the metal hitting a 28-year high and trading about $30 below its record peak.
Platinum advanced to an all-time high of $1,466 an ounce, while silver surged to $15.09, its highest level in 18 months and targeted a 25-year peak of $15.17 hit in May 2006.
High prices sparked sales of gold scrap from Indonesia and Thailand to Singapore, a key centre for bullion trading in Southeast Asia. Physical buyers remained nervous in India, the world's top gold consumer, ahead of a key festival this week.
"It's still largely a dollar story, but there is clearly more than that. Gold has just got momentum," Stephen Briggs, economist at SG Corporate and Investment Banking, said.
"When oil goes up, it benefits gold, but when oil goes down, it doesn't damage the metal. All the evidence is that jewelry demand is now very much on the defensive, but that's irrelevant if there are enough investors who thinks gold should go up."
Spot gold hit a high of $821.30 an ounce, its best level since January 1980 when it set a lifetime high of $850.
The dollar struck fresh all-time lowsagainst the euro and a basket of major currencies as the market retained its negative assessment of the U.S. economy.
Last week's strong U.S. economic data failed to put a floor under the dollar's broad slide and persistent fears about credit risks also continued to hurt the greenback.
Citigroup's Sunday announcement that it may write off $11 billion of subprime mortgage losses has stirred worries that more write-downs could surface. The bank also saw its credit rating downgraded on Monday.
A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for other currency holders and often lifts bullion demand. The metal is also generally seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.
Oil jumped more than a dollar, rebounding to above $95 per barrel, as traders bet that falling U.S. inventories and the approaching winter could help restart oil's rally.
Jumps In Other Currencies
Gold also surged in some other currencies, with the metal quoted in sterling hitting a record high of 391.42 sterling per ounce. It traded at 561.74 euros, just below last year's all-time high of 569.90 euros.
"Persistent concerns about the resilience or otherwise of the financial markets and the downward trajectory of the dollar have recombined with renewed political uncertainties to underpin investor and speculative sentiment," Standard Bank said.
"But at the start of November, there is a palpable sense that the market has become overbought and needs a short-term respite," it said in a research note.
Briggs also said the metal had gone so far so fast and the investment community was very long in gold.
"We desperately need a correction now. It has been going up almost without a break since $650 back in the summer and no correction on the way. It's a very extraordinary period but there doesn't seem anything to stop it."
"If we do get a correction, I think it's going to be very sharp and brutal," he said.
In other markets, the benchmark contract in Tokyo gold futures rose above the closely watched 3,000 yen per gram level for the first time since July 1984. The most active December
U.S. gold contract added $10.8 an ounce to $821.4. Silver was at $15.09/15.13 an ounce from $14.64/14.69 on Monday. Platinum was $1,466/1,471, against $1,459/1,463. Palladium rose $4 to $375/380.