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Gold hits new high after India's central bank loads up

November 3, 2009 |  1:54 pm

Gold streaked to record highs today, nearing the $1,100-an-ounce mark, after India’s central bank bought a load of the metal from the International Monetary Fund.

For gold bulls, the purchase damped fears that long-planned IMF sales would drive bullion prices down sharply -- and threaten the now nine-year-long bull market in the metal.

Near-term gold futures in New York surged $31.70, or 3%, to $1,085.10 an ounce. Gold now is up nearly 23% year to date, compared with the 15.7% price gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index.

Silver also shot higher today, with November futures up 45 cents to $16.89 an ounce in New York.

From Reuters:

The International Monetary Fund has sold 200 tonnes of gold to the Reserve Bank of India for $6.8 billion, quietly executing half of a long-planned bullion sale that has threatened to slow gold's ascent.

The sale, which surprised traders who expected China to be the leading buyer, will relieve the gold market of some uncertainty over how and when the IMF would sell 403.3 tonnes of gold, about one-eighth of its total stock. The deal will increase India's gold holdings to the tenth largest among central banks.

It also fueled speculation that other governments -- including Beijing -- may be ready to diversify their reserves even at near-record gold prices, helping soak up IMF supply that the fund may otherwise be forced to sell on the open market.

Should average investors follow India's lead -- or stay away from gold at these levels? In this earlier post I spotlighted two opposing views of the metal's near-term prospects.

-- Tom Petruno