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Published: Tuesday November 24, 2009 MYT 7:37:00 AM

Gold price record high, silver copper highest for year

NEW YORK: A weaker dollar carried gold prices to a new record Monday and also boosted silver and copper to their highest levels of the year.

Oil prices finished slightly higher, while agricultural futures fell.

Gold for December delivery rose as high as US$1,174 an ounce before settling at $1,164.70, up $17.90, or 1.6 percent, from Friday's close.

Year to date, prices are up 31.7 percent.

December silver rose to its highest close of the year, gaining 17 cents to $18.61 an ounce.

Earlier, prices rose as high as $18.935, the highest since July 2008.

March copper futures also finished at a fresh 2009 high, rising 2.8 cents to $3.162 a pound.

Prices touched a fresh 14-month high of $3.204 earlier in the session.

The latest surge in metal prices came as the dollar resumed its decline against other major currencies.

The dollar, which rose late last week, has been on a steady decline since March as record-low interest rates encourage investors to buy stocks, commodities and other assets that have the potential to earn higher returns than cash.

A weaker dollar makes commodities less expensive for foreign buyers. Gold's tie to the dollar, though, is different from other commodities.

The precious metal is seen as an inflation hedge and an alternative to a weak currency.

Investors have been padding their portfolios with more gold to protect themselves from a further decline in the dollar.

"Where most people get off track is looking at gold as a mere commodity," said Nick Barisheff, president and CEO of Toronto-based Bullion Management Group, a precious metals investment company.

Barisheff sees gold rising as high as $1,400 in the near term, and as high as $2,000 a year from now.

The dollar fell Monday after Federal Reserve official James Bullard said the central bank should continue to buy mortgage-backed securities after the program is currently scheduled to expire in March.

That would help keep U.S. interest rates low, further pressuring the dollar.

The ICE Futures US dollar index, which tracks the dollar against other major currencies, fell 0.7 percent in afternoon trading.

Though the spike in gold could be setting the market up for a pullback, most analysts say the long-term trend is a weaker dollar and higher gold.

A continued drive for deficit spending from governments around the world will push gold prices even higher, Barisheff said.

In other Nymex trading, December platinum rose $25.70, or 1.8 percent, to $1,464.40 an ounce.

Crude oil for January delivery rose as high as $79.92 in early trading due to the weaker dollar before settling up 9 cents at $77.56 a barrel.

Other energy futures were little moved. Gasoline futures fell 0.12 cent to $1.9794 a gallon, while heating oil futures rose 0.43 cent to $1.9799 a gallon.

On the Chicago Board of Trade, March wheat futures dipped 2.25 cents to $5.785 a bushel, while corn for March delivery fell 3.75 cents to $4.0325 a bushel.

January soybeans lost 4 cents to $10.42 a bushel.

Among other soft commodities, January sugar slipped 0.33 cent to 21.57 cents per pound, while cocoa for December delivery fell $3 to $3,242 a ton. - AP

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