Gold bounces back after sharp crude oil rally

Economists say there is not much enthusiasm right now for gold. (AFP)

Gold bounced back yesterday, capping a week of gains on the back of a sharp crude oil rally and after a drop from a one-month high spurred buying from bargain hunters.

Spot gold was at $925.20/926.60 an ounce by New York's last quote compared with $917.60/918.80 an ounce late in New York when it jumped to its highest in more than a month at $935.30 before falling sharply as oil trimmed gains.

Bullion has gained nearly three per cent this week on the back of record energy prices. "If the crude market continues to stay firm, and it looks like it will, the gold market should follow suit," said one New York-based precious metals broker.

He also said that the price of gold should be supported in the near term as the likelihood of massive profit-taking in crude oil was slim.

But still, gold has in the past two months struggled to sustain the uptrend since rising to a lifetime high of $1,030.80 an ounce on March 17, falling to a four-month low of $845 an ounce in early May as investors booked profits.

"I don't sense there's huge enthusiasm right now for gold," said Stephen Briggs, economist at SG Corporate and Investment Banking.

"So I suspect for the moment it's going to remain sort of tracking inversely, if you like, the dollar," he added.

In theory, expensive oil lifts gold's appeal as a hedge against inflation. "Resistance is still around the $935-$940 area, so unless we see a retest of that region soon, we may just head down towards the $900-$905 supports," said Adrian Koh, an analyst at Philip Futures in Singapore.

"I think physical buying will probably come around the supports of $900-$905 levels. But if they think prices will go up much more, then I think now is a good time."

US gold futures for June delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up $7.50 at $925.80 an ounce. In other precious metals, platinum ended unchanged in spite of its early strength after falling from a two-month high the previous day as speculators booked profits. Spot platinum was flat at $2,156.50/2,176.50. "Certainly the fundamentals remain very bullish. Fresh highs above $2,300 are quite easily on the cards, either in the next few weeks and certainly the later part of the year," said James Moore, an analyst at

Refiner Johnson Matthey said this week platinum could rise to a record high of $2,500 in 2008 due to production shortfalls and strong demand, and supplies would likely struggle disruptions main producer South Africa.

Platinum struck a record of $2,290 an ounce on March 4 due to power shortage in South Africa, which disrupted mining.

On Thursday, state-owned power utility Eskom warned that the risk of emergency power cuts had increased significantly due to ongoing technical problems.

Spot silver rose as high as $18.26 an ounce, its highest level since April 18, to track gains in gold.

The metal was last quoted at $18.18/18.26, compared with $17.92/17.98.