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Gold Rises for Second Day as Libya, Bahrain Turmoil Spurs Demand

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Gold rose for a second day in New York as unrest in northern Africa and the Middle East spurred demand for an investment haven.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s warplanes dropped bombs around Benghazi, bringing the war to the opposition stronghold for the first time as the United Nations Security Council debates action to protect civilians. Bahrain arrested six opposition leaders as unrest continued to spread, after protests during the past month led to the ouster of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Gold rose to a record $1,445.70 an ounce on March 7.

“You have the bargain hunters coming in as the Middle East is going up in flames,” said Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $8.10, or 0.6 percent, to settle at $1,404.20 at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York.

The metal touched $1,380.70 on March 15, the lowest since Feb. 17. Last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed thousands and sparked a nuclear-plant crisis, prompting investors to sell assets on concern that global economic growth would slow.

“Gold is still very susceptible to waves of asset liquidation as Japan repatriates assets,” McGhee said.

Silver futures for May delivery fell 21.4 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $34.258 an ounce on the Comex, the third decline this week.

Palladium futures for June delivery advanced $11.75, or 1.7 percent, to $716.80 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price touched $687, the lowest since Nov. 30. Platinum futures for April delivery gained $6.40, or 0.4 percent, to $1,706.90 an ounce, after earlier dropping to $1,658, the lowest since Nov. 30.

Platinum and palladium, used to make pollution-control devices in automobiles, are headed for a weekly loss as Japan’s automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have suspended some operations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pham-Duy Nguyen in Seattle at pnguyen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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