Gold has surged 21 percent in 2011, gaining for an 11th year, as the sovereign-debt crisis and a faltering economy boost demand for the metal as a protection of wealth.

Major indexes across the region fell between 2 and 5 percent, following drop of more than 6 percent on Wall Street in the first trading session since the historic downgrade of the United States' AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

The panicked flight-to-safety pushed gold to the latest in a string of record peaks, boosted the Swiss franc and the yen and lifted Japanese government bonds and, ironically, U.S. Treasuries - the asset directly affected by the downgrade.

Lawmakers agreed on Aug. 2 to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and put in place a plan to enforce $2.4 trillion in spending reductions over the next 10 years, less than the $4 trillion S&P had said it preferred.

In India and China, the largest and second-biggest bullion consumers, gold futures climbed to records.

Silver for September delivery rose $1.169, or 3.1 percent, to close at $39.38 an ounce in New York.

Palladium futures for September delivery fell $13.25, or 1.8 percent, to $728.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Platinum futures for October delivery climbed $4.50, or 0.3 percent, to $1,723.60 an ounce on the Nymex.

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Shayne Heffernan

Shayne Heffernan oversees the management of funds for institutions and high net worth individuals.

Shayne Heffernan holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reach a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.

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