Gold Prices Near $1,500 on S&P U.S. Downgrade

After Standard & Poor's lowered their ratings outlook for the United States, gold prices shot up at a level just below the $1,500 mark. The agency expressed concern that policymakers have not addressed important financial issues.

By Ross Tucker
04/18/11 - 10:27 AM EDT

NEW YORK(TheStreet) -- Gold prices were popping on Monday after Standard & Poor's lowered its ratings outlook on the U.S., edging closer to the $1,500 level.

Gold for June delivery was adding $8.80 to $1,494 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price was adding more than $8.60, according to Kitco's gold index.

Silver prices for June delivery are surging 71 cents to $43.29.

Gold and silver had an explosive two-day rally, up 2% and 5.8%, respectively, to close out last week as investors bought gold as protection against inflation.

Although prices had been trading weaker all morning, they spiked after Standard & Poor's maintained its triple-A rating for the U.S. but cut its outlook to negative, signaling that a ratings downgrade could come in the next two years. The ratings agency expressed concern that U.S. policymakers haven't addressed critical fiscal issues.

Several other economic readings offered more appeal to gold.

The National Association of Home Builders' April housing market index also fell to a reading of 16, compared with market expectations that it would remain unchanged at March's level of 17.

On Sunday, the People's Bank of China said it will raise the reserve requirement for banks by half of a percentage point to dampen inflation.

Gold mining stocks, a risky but potentially profitable way to buy gold, were falling Monday. Yamana Gold(AUY) was losing 3.2% to $12.39 while Harmony Gold(HMY) was down 1.9% at $14.53.

Other gold stocks, Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold(FCX) and New Gold(NGD) were trading more than 2% lower at $50.10 and $10.36, respectively.

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