Gold futures hit a record high of $1,829/oz on Thursday while global stock markets suffered one of the bloodiest days of an already disastrous month with banks and miners bearing the brunt. The losses came after renewed fears about Europe's debt crisis and more bad news about the US economy.
In the flight to safe havens, gold and silver were the only gainers. The value of the precious metal is up sevenfold from its August 1999 low of $251/oz shortly before global central banks started limiting bullion sales. Many observers believe that decision was the turning point for gold although it would take almost another decade before breaching the $1,000/oz level.
So far this month, bullion has gained more than 10%, with yearly gains surpassing 26%. Adjusted for inflation gold remains below its 1980 peak of $850/oz which translates to around $2,400 in today's dollars. Then as now gold was sought after because of its inflation-beating qualities and safe haven status.
The FTSE in London suffered its worse drop in three years with £62.3 billion wiped from the value of the UK's 100 biggest companies. In New York the Dow Jones lost as much as 528 points in morning dealings and the benchmark index and the broader S&P 500 was trading near the day's lows in early afternoon, down close to 5%.
Silver for September delivery followed gold higher, advancing 13 cents, or 0.3%, to $40.50 an ounce, but industrial metals fell across the board with copper dropping to $3.96 a pound. The price of crude oil had shed close to 6% to trade at $82.42/barrel by early afternoon.