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Gold hits record high as investors seek safety

Gold rose to another record high Tuesday as investors continue to seek refuge from volatility in other markets.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gold rose to another record high Tuesday as investors continue to seek refuge from volatility in other markets.

The price of gold for August delivery jumped as high as $1,254.50 an ounce in early trading before pulling back slightly. Gold ended the day up $4.80 at $1,245.60 an ounce.

Carlos Sanchez, an analyst with CPM Group in New York, said investors continue to worry about the strength of the global economy, particularly in Europe where many countries are facing mounting debts and are trying to cut their budgets.

Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday that the United Kingdom is facing "formidable" fiscal challenges. That caution comes as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Hungary are already grappling with rising deficits and, in several cases, civil unrest as they try to implement austerity measures.

During the past month, gold became a staple for investors seeking alternatives to holding currencies like the euro, which has been hammered this year on waning confidence in Europe's ability to get its debt crisis under control.

The euro has dropped 10.2 percent since the beginning of May. Gold has risen 5.5 percent over the same time frame.

Sanchez said the interest in gold and related investments is widespread, with investors pouring money into exchange-traded funds that buy gold as well as physical gold itself.

How gold will fare in the coming days is still uncertain, Sanchez noted. If it makes another run higher, it could quickly eclipse $1,270 an ounce and approach $1,300 as technical trading kicks in and automatic buy orders are triggered, he said.

However, traders might also opt to take profit now that it has hit a new record, Sanchez added.

That would be similar to what happened last month, when gold hit a previous record of $1,249.70. After rising that high, investors sold gold to book some profits, sending its price down five straight days to a low of $1,166.00 an ounce before it began climbing again.

Silver again followed gold higher. Contracts for July silver rose 31.5 cents to settle $18.477 an ounce.

Copper traded in a narrow range throughout the day. The industrial metal rose 1.35 cents to settle at $2.7795 a pound.

The price of copper has been plummeting in recent days because of the same worries that have helped push gold and silver higher. Copper prices are highly dependent on demand for industrial uses. So if the global economy slows, particularly industrialized nations like those in Europe, demand would drop for copper.

Energy prices were mixed. Benchmark crude for July delivery rose 55 cents to $71.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other energy contracts for July delivery, heating oil fell 0.3 cent to $1.9653 a gallon, while gasoline fell 0.58 cent to settle at $1.9891 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10.8 cents to $4.808 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Grain and bean prices were mixed. July wheat was unchanged at $4.3225 a bushel, while corn gained 1.5 cents to settle at $3.3725 a bushel. Soybeans fell 7 cents to settle at $9.31 a bushel.