By Alix Steel - 03/18/11 - 11:12 AM EDT
Gold for April delivery was adding $14.70 to $1,418.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has rallied 1.4% Friday to $1,424.10 an ounce and as low as $1,402.20. The spot gold price was rising $15.60, according to Kitco's gold index.
Silver prices were adding 80 cents to $35.06 an ounce.
"We have to broaden [gold's] range," says Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco.com. "Over the last week, I think a lot of rulebooks and assumptions will have to be rewritten ... the range we can expect here ... is probably between $1,380 and about $1,430."
Investors were rushing into gold Friday as protection against a volatile currency market after the G7 said it would step in the help Japan put a lid on its rising yen. On Wednesday evening after 5 p.m EDT, the currency rallied 4.6% against the dollar in minutes to just below the 82 level. This is the first group effort to help a currency in 11 years. The last time was in 2000 when the group helped stem a euro plummet.
Reportedly Japan has bought more than $20 billion U.S. dollars and is also selling yen. Other countries like the U.S. are actively supporting this move. The yen was falling 2.85% against the dollar.
Japan has offered up almost $800 billion to shore up its economy in the past week and expanded its bond buying program to 10 trillion yen. The efforts should have dragged on the yen, but it didn't. Speculators who had been betting the yen would fall had to buy it back to cover their bets, and companies and individuals are rumored to have been selling other assets for yen as well.
Any sort of whisper of currency intervention typically gives gold a boost as it reminds investors that paper currencies are at the mercy of central banks and highlights gold's appeal as a safer place to store wealth. The currency market can also be very volatile which also makes gold, a hard asset, more appealing.
The tricky thing about currency intervention is that the specifics are kept under lock and key. Uncertainty can be a green light for gold buyers.
Gold didn't even flinch at China's latest attempt to control inflation by increasing the amount banks must hold in their reserves by 50 basis points to 20%. China has done this nine times since the start of 2010 and the pressure is on as inflation in the country reached 4.9% in February. Raising the reserve requirements is seen as the soft way to tame inflation, with rate hikes being the strong kicker.
Gold's rally in spite of China's move suggests that investors don't expect the country to be able to tame its growth and reverse its negative interest rate environment, which makes gold worth more than money kept in the bank.
Gold was playing its role as a safe-haven asset Friday as the U.N. Security Council voted to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The country's foreign minister, however, immediately called for a cease-fire, stopping any military operations against protesters, but the outcome is still uncertain.
Protestors and police are still clashing in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia has announced more concessions to its citizens to try to bribe for peace. War, turmoil and unrest create a good environment for gold buyers.
Investors and traders alike will also be looking for a place to put their cash headed into a weekend where anything can happen. Last Friday, Japan suffered an earthquake and tsunami and by Monday the world was dealing with a possible nuclear meltdown. This uncertainty can lead traders to opt for cash as they adopt a "just in case" mentality, so many experts are predicting more volatility in the precious metal sector.
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