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Gold hits near 1-year peak as tensions rise over North Korea

  • Gold prices shot up on Monday to their highest in nearly a year as investors bought safe haven assets
  • Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,336 per ounce by 0915 GMT, after earlier touching its strongest level since late September last year at $1,339.47.
Gold coins
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Gold prices shot up on Monday to their highest in nearly a year as investors bought safe haven assets amid worries that North Korea might launch more missiles in the wake of its sixth and largest nuclear test.

A weaker dollar also underpinned gold, which was likely to continue to rally in coming days, according to Tom Kendall, head of precious metals strategy at ICBC Standard Bank.

"We've got the geopolitics and we've also got a fairly benign interest rate environment. There's still nothing threatening coming out of the Fed recently," he said.

Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,336 per ounce by 0915 GMT, after earlier touching its strongest level since late September last year at $1,339.47.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery were up 0.8 percent at $1,341.30 an ounce.

South Korea said on Monday it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after signs North Korea might launch more missiles.

The next technical target for spot gold was around $1,375, the high following last year's Brexit vote, Kendall added.

"If you've got a momentum-type trading model, things have been pretty good. It's not looking overextended or overbought just yet, so I think we can definitely get up to that $1,375
level."

The Japanese yen and sovereign bonds also climbed on Monday as North Korea's nuclear test provoked a knee-jerk shift to safe havens, while stocks markets fell.

"Another plus for gold is that we don't see an immediate rate hike and the shrinkage of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet," said Mark To, head of research at Hong Kong's Wing Fung
Financial Group.

On Friday, after a U.S. government report showed employers added fewer jobs in August than expected, traders held to expectations that the Federal Reserve would wait until the middle of 2018 before raising rates.

Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the greenback.

Investors were also looking ahead to a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday.

Markets are expecting no policy change from the ECB this month but the bank is likely to announce a reduction of its monthly asset purchases in October, according to a majority of
economists in a Reuters poll.

Silver rose 0.8 percent to $17.83 an ounce, earlier touching its highest since late April at $17.90 an ounce.

Platinum gained 0.4 percent to $1,008.90. It had previously marked its best since early March at $1,014.70.

Palladium added 0.8 percent to $988.50, after earlier reaching its highest since February 2001 at $1,001.