Gold price only gainer amid carnage on stock, metal markets

The gold price held onto recent gains on Thursday on the back of safe haven buying as reports surfaced of Russian troops amassing on Ukraine's borders and stocks took a tumble over worries about China's economy.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery – the most active contract – last traded at $1,370.90 an ounce, up slightly from yesterday's close.

In brisk trading the metal hit a high of $1.376 earlier in the day, the best level since September and up 14.8% since the start of the year.

President Vladimir Putin's adventurism in Ukraine received another round of condemnation from Western leaders and Nato announced the deployment of fighter jets to countries on Ukraine's western borders, but there appears to be no resolution to the crisis in the offing.

Voters in the Crimea, where 60% of the population are Russian speakers, go to polls over the weekend to decide whether to become again a part of a greater Russia. The semi-autonomous republic was gifted to Ukraine in the 1950s when the region was under Soviet rule.

Dismal economic news out of China crimped global growth expectations gave investors another excuse to sell off stocks.

US and European stocks were hammered with the Dow Jones falling 231 points and the broader S&P 500 losing 1.2% and erasing the year's gain in the process. In Europe, which is China's largest trading partner and will be hard hit if sanctions are imposed on Russia, Germany's Xetra Dax index fell almost 2%.

Silver did not join gold's rally falling 16 cents to close almost 1% lower at $21.20. Platinum at $1,478 and palladium at $776 also pulled back slightly and copper suffered another sharp correction. The red metal ended the day at just over $2.92 a pound, the lowest level since June 2010.