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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Gold soars on global tensions
Gold bars
Jewellery is an easier to transport
Gold has soared to its best level in seven years, as its safe haven image shone in the face of a weak dollar and the imminent second anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

On New York's Comex market, the price of gold for delivery in December - the benchmark for the market - rose $6.60 on Tuesday to $382.80 an ounce.

The last time the market closed at that level was November 1996.

Early on Wednesday, Asian markets followed suit, with the price of gold in Tokyo hovering not far below its highest figure for a decade.

Safe haven

With the dollar weakening against both the yen and the euro, investors are seeing gold as a better store of value, economists said.

On top of that, there is the precious metal's traditional role in the psychology of investors as a safe haven in times of international uncertainty.

The renewed violence in the Middle East - devastating suicide bombings by the Hamas extremist group, with immediate air attacks in retaliation by the Israeli government - has ripped up the US-backed "roadmap" to peace.

At the same time, bombings and ambushes of coalition forces in Iraq show little sign of easing.

The resulting tension, combined with the fear that the anniversary of 9/11 could offer a tempting opportunity for new attacks, is helping fuel the rush to gold.

It is also keeping buyers out of the dollar, economists said - at least till the anniversary is over.

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