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Gold hits record high as dollar sinks and inflation fears revive

October 6, 2009 |  9:12 am

The New Gold Rush is on.

The metal soared to record highs early today, fueled by fresh fears that the dollar's status as the world's preeminent currency will continue to erode.

Gold futures in New York were trading at nearly $1,043 an ounce at about 8:15 a.m. PDT, up from $1,016 on Monday and topping the previous peak of $1,033.90 set in March 2008.

The dollar, which has been drifting lower for most of this year against other major currencies, took another hit today after Britain's Independent newspaper said secret talks were taking place among Arab states, China, Russia and other countries to stop pricing oil in dollars, and shift instead to a basket of currencies including the euro, the yen and the Chinese yuan.

Goldbars Bloomberg News reported that Saudi Arabian Central Bank Governor Muhammad al-Jasser said his nation hasn’t held meetings with other oil producers or consumers on shifting away from the dollar, but that hasn't been much comfort to the buck today.

The euro rose to $1.475 from $1.466 on Monday. The yen strengthened to 89.01 to the dollar, from 89.51.

The dollar also came under pressure after Australia's central bank raised its benchmark short-term interest rate -- another sign of global economic recovery. To gold investors, that means a higher likelihood of rising inflation ahead.

The weakness of the dollar, and the risks posed to the greenback's status as the world's reserve currency, have been the biggest motivators for gold's fans this year.

But some analysts say gold's ascent reflects increasing doubt about the value of all paper currencies, as the world's central banks have pumped enormous sums of money into the financial system to rescue the economy after the U.S.-led crash.

“Gold is acting like the ultimate currency,” Chip Hanlon, president of Delta Global Advisors Inc. in Huntington Beach, noted on Bloomberg. “Central banks are following the same monetary course and trying to stimulate and inflate their way back to growth. Everyone’s concerned about the dollar, but it’s not like you can hate the dollar and fall in love with the euro or the yen.”

“Gold is not just seen as an inflation hedge here in the U.S. but is rather acting as a hedge against all currencies,” Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, noted on Bloomberg.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo credit: Kim Jae-Hwan / AFP/Getty Images