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Brexit helps gold gain over 25% in first half of 2016

The U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union in last week's referendum has provided precious metals with a big boost as investors flock to safe-haven assets such as gold and silver.

Gold was headed for its fifth weekly gain, trading above $1,332.47 an ounce on Friday. 2016 has been a good year for gold investors: the yellow metal has risen more than 25 percent year-to-date.

Meanwhile, silver traded above $19 an ounce. Since the start of the year it has climbed by 35 percent.

A one kilogram gold bar sits on top of silver bars.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A one kilogram gold bar sits on top of silver bars.

Gold is being supported by safe-haven bids following Brexit according to Societe Generale. The bank raised its short-term price forecasts for both metals: it expected gold to hit $1,350 by the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to its previous forecast of $1,150.

"Gold prices soared on safe-haven buying, following the U.K.'s decision at the referendum on June 23rd to leave the European Union, which has sent shock waves and triggered severe sell-offs across global financial markets," said Robin Bhar, head of metals research at Societe Generale.

The plunging value of the pound also impacted the metal, as it in effect boosted the price of sterling-denominated gold.

"The British pound plunged by 12 percent on an intra-day basis on the day when the 'leave' outcome was announced," explained Bhar.

"This translated into even more spectacular gains in the sterling-denominated gold price, which jumped by 18 percent on the 24th from the previous day's closing value, to a high of £993 per ounce for the first time in more than three years."

Money has poured into ETFs, as well. Since the referendum result, there has been $335 million of inflows into precious metal on the back of Brexit concerns, according to James Butterfill, executive director and head of research at investment strategy at ETF Securities.

"If you look at CFTC futures position, it's a good barometer for sentiment. It is at an all-time high. So, some investors are a little bit jittery about that," he told CNBC's Squawk Box.

Butterfill added that his company had forecast gold prices reaching $1,440. Many investors are also switching to silver, because it is currently priced lower than gold and valuations look attractive, he explained.

With the current outlook of political and economic uncertainty set to continue, precious metals are likely to remain attractive assets for investors.

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