Gold futures rose above $900 an ounce for the first time Friday, as high oil prices, a weak dollar and fears of a U.S. recession led uneasy investors to keep buying the precious metal.
An ounce of gold for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped $6.50 to $900.1 in morning trading, an all-time high and a psychologically important milestone. Gold later slipped to $898.70 an ounce but remained in record territory.
"It's a reflection of market sentiment: Gold is a hedge against uncertainty and right now it's the best bet," said Carlos Sanchez, a precious metals analyst at CPM Group in New York. "None of the other investment options look that great and gold does."
Still, when adjusted for inflation, gold remains well below its all-time high. An ounce of gold at $875 in 1980 would be worth $2,115 to $2,200 today.
Gold has seen a meteoric rise the past year — rising 32 percent in 2007 — boosted by rising prices for oil and other commodities and also by the falling U.S. dollar. Those trends have increased the metal's appeal as a haven; gold is also seen as a safe investment in times of political and economic uncertainty around the world.