Gold prices climbed to a fresh 6-1/2 month peak, moving closer to the key $1,300 an ounce level on Thursday, as concerns about economic slowdown gripped global markets and fuelled demand for safe-haven bullion.
Spot gold gained 0.42 percent to $1,290.20 per ounce at 1:50 p.m. ET, having earlier touched $1,292.32, its highest since June 15. Gold futures settled $10.70 higher at $1,294.80.
"Gold is overbought on most measures and needs to consolidate but with the speculative long still building, the market will be looking for $1,300 sooner than expected," Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said.
"If the fourth quarter theme of lower dollar, stocks and yields carries on, gold is likely to break higher and set its sight on the previous high around $1,380."
Gold briefly pared some gains earlier in the session after data showed U.S. private payrolls increased by the most in nearly two years in December.
"They gave stocks a small lift but not enough to trigger profit taking in gold," Hansen said.
A rare warning by Apple on revenue rocked financial markets on Thursday amid the backdrop of worries over slowing global economic and corporate growth.
Gold is traditionally considered a safe investment during times of uncertainty, and weakness in the U.S. dollar has added to demand for the precious metal by making it cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Gold denominated in sterling peaked at 1,031.89 pounds an ounce during the day, its highest since Sept. 8, 2017, while in euro terms it rose to 1,137.47 euros, highest since June 9, 2017.
"The performance of gold in other currencies than the U.S. dollar is driven by the performance of these currencies versus the dollar," said Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke.
"We see the gold market in a longer-term recovery, driven by a combination of normalization of market sentiment, a weakening U.S. dollar and returning investment demand."
Reflective of increased interest in bullion, holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose to 795.31 tonnes, their highest since early August last year.
"Recent market volatility has confirmed that gold remains a safe-haven asset and the yellow metal helps to reduce volatility in a portfolio," said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS.
"Gold prices have behaved as you would expect during the recent period of uncertainty, rising as expectations of Fed tightening next year have been cut sharply and equities have sold off."
Markets will be looking for clues on U.S. interest rates after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell meets former Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke on Friday as expectations rise that the Fed might end its rate-hiking cycle.
Silver rose 0.95 percent to $15.66 an ounce, after rising to its highest level since July 17, 2018.