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Gold Futures Surge to Record $1,429.40 on Currency Concerns

Gold futures jumped to a record $1,429.40 an ounce on concern the U.S. will pump more cash into the economy and Europe’s debt woes will spread, boosting the appeal of the metal as an alternative to currencies.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank may boost Treasury purchases. European officials were split on containing the sovereign-debt crisis. Gold priced in euros and U.K. pounds also rose to records, and silver futures extended a rally to a 30-year high.

“Fundamentals are very much bullish for gold,” said Frank Lesh, a trader at Futurepath Trading in Chicago. “The continuing European debt crisis is on traders’ mind, and that creates the flight-to-safety quality in gold.”

Gold futures for February delivery reached the all-time high in after-hours trading after closing up $9.90, or 0.7 percent, to $1,416.10 at 2:14 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The previous intraday record was $1,424.30 on Nov. 9. The metal was up $18.30, or 1.3 percent, to $1,424.50 at 4:43 p.m., compared with the settlement on Dec. 3.

Gold for immediately delivery climbed $9.43, or 0.7 percent, to $1,423.50. Earlier, the metal reached a record $1,427.55.

The metal is in “an unchartered territory” after breaking the record, Lesh said. Prices may reach $1,456 or higher by the end of the year, he said.

‘Currency Debasement’

“Further currency debasement is the new norm,” said Matthew Zeman, a metal trader at LaSalle Futures Group in Chicago, said before the close of the Comex. “As long as that stands, investors are going to buy metals as a hedge against paper money. Gold has clear sailing to go much further from here.”

Unemployment may take five years to fall to a normal level, and Fed buying of Treasury securities beyond the $600 billion announced last month is possible, Bernanke said in an interview broadcast yesterday by CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes” program.

Germany rejected calls to increase the European Union’s 750 billion-euro ($1 trillion) aid fund or introduce joint bond sales, signaling refusal to bear more costs to stamp out the debt crisis.

Gold is poised for a 10th annual gain after governments spent trillions of dollars and kept interest rates low to bolster economies.

Dennis Gartman, an economist and the editor of the Suffolk, Virginia-based Gartman Letter, has recommended owning gold in foreign currencies to limit exposure to a rally by the dollar. The greenback rose as much as 1.3 percent today against the euro.

‘Reservable Currency’

“Owning gold in this fashion relieves us of exposure to the dollar,” Gartman said. “It takes gold away from being a bet against the dollar and to being a bet for gold as a reservable currency.”

Gold probably will advance to $1,500 next year on demand from investors and central banks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report dated Dec. 3.

Silver futures for March delivery rose 46.4 cents, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $29.735 an ounce. In after-hours trading, the price reached $30.355, extending a rally to the highest since 1980.

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