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Gold Sets Record as Silver Climbs to 27-Year High

Gold edged closer to $1,000 on Monday, setting a record high for the fourth straight day as the dollar tumbled and as crude oil held near an all-time high.

Gold Bars
AP
Gold Bars

Silver jumped above $20 an ounce for the first time since November 1980, while platinum and palladium held near highs.

Spot gold jumped as high as $989.30 an ounce and was quoted at 983.70/984.50 at 1530 GMT, up from $973.30/973.75 in New York late on Friday.

Gold has gained around 18 percent in 2008 as investors shift some of their money into the precious metal on expectations of more interest rate cuts in the United States, volatile stock markets and fears of rising energy costs.

"People are bullish because the macro-economic backdrop, especially in the United States, is still deteriorating. There are a lot of incentives in the market for people to actually go long on gold at the moment," said Michael Widmer, metals analyst at Lehman Brothers.

"As long as the dollar remains under pressure, I would expect that gold prices would continue to rise."

The dollar fell to a record low against a basket of currencies on Monday, as concerns about the health of the U.S. economy intensified.

A weaker dollar makes gold cheaper for holders of other currencies and often lifts bullion demand. The metal is also generally seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation.

Oil moved sharply higher, propelled by gains in oil products and dollar weakness. Expectations that OPEC will not change oil output when it meets this week in Vienna underpinned the market.

"It clearly needs further weakness in the dollar to do that (reach $1,000), but it doesn't look inconceivable," said Stephen Briggs, economist at SG Corporate and Investment Banking.

"Gold is heavily overdue a correction. It has for a while, but it just doesn't do it," Briggs said.

In other bullion markets, U.S. gold futures also rallied to a record high above $990 an ounce. The active gold contract for April delivery was up $12 an ounce at $987 at 1525 after rising as high as $992.

"The weakening dollar is increasing gold's appeal as an alternative investment, which has prompted a wave of fund buying interest as investors search for a safe haven to protect the value of their portfolios," Standard Bank said in a report.

In other metals, silver rose as high as $20.60 an ounce, up from $19.80/19.85 an ounce late in New York, and was last quoted at $20.20/20.25.

Spot platinum rose to a high of $2,190/2,200 an ounce from $2,163/2,170 late in New York. It hit a record of $2,192 an ounce on Feb. 22 as problems with power supply disrupted mining in main producer South Africa.

A South African minister said on Friday the country's mining industry would get priority under measures aimed at cutting electricity use to solve a power crisis.

Palladium rose to $583/587 an ounce, its highest in more than six years, from $563/568 late in New York.

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