Gold climbs to three-week high as investors seek safety

London (Jan 6)  Gold hit three-week highs on Tuesday as sliding oil prices knocked stock markets and concerns simmered over Greece’s future in the eurozone, prompting investors to seek out bullion as a safe store of value.

European shares resumed their sell-off after Monday’s slump, with energy stocks declining as oil prices fell 3% to new five-and-a-half-year lows.

That prompted investors to buy assets perceived as offering safety, such as US and German government bonds, the Japanese yen and gold, offsetting the negative effect on the metal of a stronger dollar.

Political uncertainty in Greece has also renewed fears of a possible Greek exit from the eurozone ahead of the country’s elections on January 25.

Spot gold was up 0.7% at $1,211.50 an ounce at 10.41am GMT, having earlier touched a peak of $1,214.40, its highest since December 16. The metal rose 1.3% on Monday.

"There are some factors that are playing in gold’s favour right now," Julius Baer analyst Carsten Menke said.

"We’ve had these issues in Greece again, and talk about Grexit. In 2011, when the euro crisis struck, this was of course a big driver of the gold market, so some people are moving back into gold because of this."

US gold futures for February delivery were up $7.50/oz at $1,211.50. Gold priced in euros hit its highest since September 2013 at €1,019.15/oz, benefiting from a 0.25% drop in the euro versus the dollar.

Holdings in the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Shares, rose 0.25% to 710.81-tonnes on Monday, though they remained near a six-year low.

Meanwhile data showed hedge funds and money managers raised their net long positions in gold futures and options for the first time in three weeks in the week to December 30.

Premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange were $5/oz-$6/oz over the global benchmark on Tuesday, seen by dealers as a sign of good demand in top consumer China.

Buying in China has increased in recent weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when gold is bought for gifts, and demand is likely to stay strong until the holiday in February.

Among other precious metals, silver was up 0.7% at $16.25/oz. Platinum was up 0.9% at $1,215.50/oz, while spot palladium was up 1.1% at $798.45/oz.

Source: Reuters