Mumbai, Nov. 19: Gold prices zoomed to heights not seen since March 1996 as demand for the yellow metal surged amid dollar wobbles prompted by growing trade spats and a rise in threats of terror re-runs. In the local bullion markets, pure gold (10 grams) hit Rs 6,000 in Calcutta and Rs 5,985 in Mumbai; silver rose in tandem.
Gold, a traditional safe haven for investors in times of trouble, topped $400 (Rs 18,232) an ounce (28.35 grams) to touch $400.75 in overseas markets. It was at $345 early this year and peaked at $388.50 in February, a month before the US struck Iraq.
A dollar losing ground against major world currencies amid fears of retaliation to planned US sanctions on Chinese textile imports pushed investors into gold.
For Indians, the largest buyers of gold, the surge in prices has been a damper for the country’s jewellery trade. Jewellers lament that consumers prefer to recycle their gold by exchanging it for new during the festival and marriage season, instead of buying fresh stocks. World Gold statistics showed total world demand for the yellow metal last year at 3415 tonnes. Of this, 575 tonnes came to India, while 240 tonnes reached China.
In the local markets, standard gold (99.5 purity) had a smart opening at Rs 5,935 and went on to close at Rs 5,940, a sharp gain of Rs 60 from its previous close of Rs 5,880. Silver of .999 fineness opened at Rs 8,580, but failed to hold that level for long as fresh bouts of profit selling at the fag-end pulled prices down to Rs 8,555. It was still a gainer of Rs 80 over the Tuesday’s finish of Rs 8,475.