Gold Jumps Most in 12 Weeks on Haven Demand Amid Egypt Tensions

Gold futures jumped the most in 12 weeks on demand for a haven amid escalating tensions in Egypt.

Tens of thousands of marchers chanted “liberty” and “change” as rallies began today at points across Cairo in the biggest challenge to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Earlier, gold touched a four-month low.

“The world is not such a nice place as people thought,” said Jon Spall, a product manager for precious metals at Barclays Capital in London. “People see risk and danger, so gold becomes attractive.”

Gold futures for April delivery rose $21.90, or 1.7 percent, to settle at $1,341.70 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain since Nov. 4. Earlier, the price touched $1,309.10, the lowest since Oct. 1. The metal climbed to a record $1,432.50 on Dec. 7.

“The big turnaround in gold has to do with the escalating crisis in Egypt,” said Matthew Zeman, a metal trader at LaSalle Futures Group in Chicago. “People are saying it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Investors also are unwinding bets on a decline, Zeman said. This month, gold has dropped 5.6 percent, heading for the biggest January slump since 1997.

Yesterday, holdings in exchange-traded products backed by bullion dropped to the lowest level since June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from 10 providers.

Silver futures for March delivery rose 88.8 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $27.919 an ounce on the Comex, the biggest gain since Dec. 28. This week, the price climbed 1.8 percent, the first gain this month.

Palladium futures for March delivery rose $3.50, or 0.4 percent, to $817 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Platinum futures for April delivery climbed $1.50 to $1,805 an ounce.

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