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Gold Pulls Back Slightly from $1,000 Mark

Gold briefly pushed past the psychologically important $1,000 mark Thursday, as investors poured money into the metal to hedge against a tumbling dollar, soaring crude prices and a shaky U.S. economy.

Gold Bricks
AP
Gold Bricks

Gold's rally lifted other commodities, with silver, platinum and soybean futures all trading higher. Crude oil hit a trading record of $111 but fluctuated between gains and losses, while copper futures fell.

Growing unease about the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve's interest rate-cutting campaign have sent the greenback to record lows against the euro, boosting the allure of precious metals as a safe-haven investment.

The 15-nation euro hit a record $1.5625 in Thursday trading, topping the previous record of $1.5559 set Wednesday. The dollar also fell below the 100 Japanese yen for the time in 12 years -- raising worries of instability in currency markets.

Gold reacted swiftly to the dollar's fall, rising to $1,001.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest ever. Traders later cashed in profits, leaving gold to settle at $993.80, still up $13.30 an ounce.

"The funds keep throwing big-time money at commodities and we've seen spikes in everything," said Jon Nadler, analyst with Kitco Bullion Dealers in Montreal. "Gold continues to feed off that same fund attention and (the $1,000 level) will make headlines, but I think a lot depends on the closing levels."

Gold had been flirting with $1,000 for the last two weeks but struggled to breach the barrier despite sharp drops in the dollar and crude's record-setting rally. Despite achieving the milestone, gold remains well below its inflation-adjusted high of 1980. An ounce of gold at $1,000 then would be worth about $2,560 today.

Gold watchers will now turn their attention to Tuesday, when the Federal Reserve is expected to announce another interest rate cut in an effort to steady the limping U.S. economy. That could push the dollar even lower, encouraging investors to buy hard assets like gold and silver, which are known for holding their value.

Other precious metals traded mostly higher Thursday. May silver jumped 42.5 cents to settle at $20.420 an ounce on the Nymex, while April platinum gained $27.50 to settle at $2,097.50 an ounce. Nymex copper, meanwhile, inched 1.2 cents lower to settle at $3.8250 a pound.

In energy markets, crude oil rose to a new record -- the 12th in the last 13 sessions -- after the dollar's drop attracted new buyers. Prices, however, gyrated between gains and losses, in part because of a Commerce Department report showing an unexpected fall in retail sales last month -- raising more economic worries.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell below $110 on the Nymex, after earlier reaching a new trading record of $111.

Other energy futures traded mixed. April gasoline futures fell 3.94 cents to $2.6892 a gallon, while April heating oil futures rose 5.30 cents to $3.0775 a gallon.

In agriculture markets, soybeans jumped on expectations of dwindling stockpiles and growing global demand.

Soybeans for May delivery added 20 cents to $14.15 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier rising as high as $14.305 a bushel.

Other agriculture products also traded mixed. Wheat for May delivery fell 15.5 cents to settle at $12.67 a bushel on the CBOT, while May corn rose 8.5 cents to $5.7575 a bushel.