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WORLD NEWS Price of gold breaks through $900 level

Date: 1/15/2008 1:34:57 AM

Gold prices surged above $900 a troy ounce for the first time as investors on Monday sought refuge from a weakening US dollar and further losses on Wall Street.

As the spot price hit $914 an ounce in London, traders were betting it would reach $1,000 within three months. The surge to a record high was also prompted by fears that lower interest rates and higher food and energy commodities would trigger an inflation rise.

John Hill, an analyst at Citigroup in New York, said gold prices were likely to test the $1,000anounce level in 2008. Key gold traders such as UBS, Mitsui Precious Metals, Barclays Capital and The Bank of Nova Scotia expressed a similar view. “Prices could explode to multiples of these levels in the event of a fullblown US recession,” he added.

David Holmes, head of precious metals at Dresdner Kleinwort in London, added that investors were already buying option contracts that would be profitable only if gold prices surged to levels above $1,000 an ounce to as high as $1,500 an ounce.

Speculators on the New York gold market hold 10 bets on higher prices for each one on lower prices, according to analysts. Investors in Tokyo and on the Shanghai gold futures market are also betting on higher prices.

Gold’s strength boosted platinum to a high of $1,590 an ounce and silver to a 27year high of $16.58 an ounce.

The US dollar fell to $1.4890 against the euro, its weakest level in seven weeks.

Meanwhile, agriculture commodities jumped as the weaker dollar attracted overseas buyers and after signs that European Union efforts to boost agriculture production had failed so far in spite of the suspension of the limits to grain crops.

The EU last year scrapped a rule requiring farmers to set aside 10 per cent of their land in an effort to increase output. However, French and German farmers, which account for half of the EU15 production, sowed less than 2 per cent more winter crops.

The European failure follows a similar pattern in the US. Soyabean and rice prices surged to an alltime high, corn jumped to a 12year record, and wheat prices surged, with the new crop futures hitting alltime highs. In Paris, rapeseed futures traded above €450atonne for the first time.

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