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Gold Tops $750 an Ounce, Highest Level Since 1980

Gold rose on Friday to the highest level since 1980 as the U.S. dollar scavenged new lows against the euro and oil prices headed near record territory.

Commodities were set to end the third quarter with substantial gains, despite a bumpy ride through August when concerns about the availability of credit roiled financial markets. Crude prices rose on Friday, while industrial metals and agriculture futures traded mixed.

Meanwhile, gold breached $750 an ounce as investors sought shelter in precious metals from the inflationary signs of rising oil prices and a weakening dollar.

The dollar's decline against the euro has been precipitous this week, as the greenback has slid to a fresh low for seven straight trading days. On Friday, the European currency purchased a record $1.4207.

There also were signs of strong gold demand from India this week, said Tom Pawlicki, an analyst with MF Global in Chicago. India, the world's largest gold consumer, is in the midst of its wedding and festival season, a traditional time of gold-buying for gifts and investment. The country's economy has been robust, and the Indian rupee has strengthened as a result.

December gold advanced $11.60 to $751.50 an ounce at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- the highest since an ounce fetched more than $850 in January 1980, according to Thomson Financial data. December silver jumped 32 cents to $13.965 an ounce.

Gold's recent climb has been fast and sharp. Jon Nadler, senior analyst with Kitco Bullion Dealers, cautioned in a note to clients that gold "is also taking on some ominous and purely speculative features that may not see it correct in orderly fashion, or end too well."

Light, sweet crude for November delivery gained 42 cents to $83.30 on the Nymex, shy of the all-time peak $83.90 reached last week. Gasoline futures slipped 1.64 cents to $2.0775 a gallon.