Spot gold tops $1,800 an ounce

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Gold had barely cooled its heels after sprinting to record highs last week when roiling markets sent it back on the run.

Spot gold in New York swept up to $1,818.60 an ounce -- another peak -- in late-session trading Thursday as investors recoiled from a raft of bad economic news. The price broke records earlier this week, closing Wednesday at $1,791.20.


Wilting equity markets in Europe stoked fears. Economists from Morgan Stanley, who downsized their forecast for global economic growth, declared the U.S. “dangerously close” to a recession.

Government reports found that consumer inflation and claims for unemployment benefits were both on the rise. Meanwhile, home sales plunged as high food and energy prices push up the cost of living.

Such instability has long been a powerful lure into gold’s haven. The precious metal has trended up for more than a decade and has more than doubled since the recession first hit.

The World Gold Council said it expected gold to stay hot in the second half of the year. Stoking the fire: lingering worries linked to the downgraded U.S. debt, a fragile economic outlook in the West and a strong demand for gold from India and China despite the high price.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sees it as a good time to grab hold of gold. He announced plans Wednesday to nationalize Venezuela’s gold sector.


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-- Tiffany Hsu