Gold touched record prices as worries over issues such as the coronavirus pandemic as well as U.S.-China tensions weighed on investor sentiment.
Spot gold traded up 1.9% at about $1,938.11 per ounce after earlier trading as high as $1,943.9275 per ounce. Those levels eclipsed the previous record high price set in September 2011. Gold futures settled up 1.9% to $1,931.00.
"While we think gold will continue to be supported by rising geopolitical tensions, in our view the primary drivers of the gold price are its negative correlation to real interest rates and the dollar. We think these three factors, in combination with limited supply growth as miners continue to restrain capital spending, will drive gold prices higher," UBS chief investment officer Mark Haefele told clients Monday.
In a note circulated before the new highs, Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Vivek Dhar said the fall in U.S. 10-year real yields has been the "most important driver" among other factors, such as a weakened U.S. dollar and safe-haven demand being lifted.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note last sat at 0.5856%. Against a basket of its peers, the U.S. dollar was at 93.906. The Japanese yen traded at 105.60 against the greenback after strengthening sharply late last week from levels above 106.40 per dollar.
"The negative relationship between long term US real yields and gold futures has held up fairly well over the longer term. That is because when long term US real yields increase, gold is less attractive relative to US interest bearing securities since gold has no income earning ability," said Dhar, who is a mining and energy commodities analyst at the firm. "The fall in US 10 year real yields is primarily being driven by an increase in US 10 year inflation expectations."
Johan Jooste of The Global CIO Office told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Monday that the "opportunity cost of holding gold is virtually zero" with Treasury yields at their current low levels. Still, he added that there's a "horrible feeling of chasing it a bit after the fact" if investors enter the gold market now.
"We've said buy on dips, but … it's a difficult thing to do now because … you probably have missed out somewhat," said Jooste, who is chief investment officer at the firm.
The moves in prices of the precious metal came as tensions have been heating up between Washington and Beijing. China announced on Friday that it ordered the United States to shut its consulate in Chengdu, following the U.S. demanding the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.
Preceding that, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also slammed China in a speech on Thursday. He said Washington will no longer tolerate Beijing's attempts to usurp global order.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases globally continues to rise. More than 16 million people around the world have been infected by the coronavirus, with the U.S. accounting for roughly a quarter of that figure, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
— CNBC's Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.