Gold surged to record highs Friday for a second consecutive session as investors reached for the safety of bullion amid a worsening economic outlook for the United States and concern about the health of Europe's banks.
Disappointing U.S. manufacturing and housing data fueled worries that growth in the world's largest economy has stalled.
Renewed fears about the health of Europe's banks encouraged the flight of investors from stocks to safe haven bets such as gold.
Spot gold rose more than 1 percent to an all-time high of $1,844.55 an ounce, before easing to $1,842.41 by 3:24 a.m. GMT. It was on course for a 5.6-percent weekly rise, its seventh gain in a row and the largest since February 2009.
U.S. gold rose to a record of $1,847.9, and stood at $1,845.50.
It's not surprising in view of more concerns about Europe and terrible data out of the U.S., said Darren Heathcote, head of trading at Investec Australia.
It looks unlikely that gold would fall particularly at the present time, given there's so much uncertainty and nervousness in the markets.
The uncertainty in the global economy would likely boost the prices of bullion further, to $1,900 an ounce in the next six months, said metals consultancy GFMS, a unit of Thomson Reuters.
Technical analysis echoed the bullish sentiment. Spot gold could rise to $1,850 on Friday, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
The physical market saw thin trading, dealers said.
Clients are stunned and don't know what to do, said a Singapore-based physical gold dealer. Most of them are now waiting to see what is going to happen next.
Gold's near one-quarter gain from July has stoked expectations of a correction in prices among some, but fear of another economic recession will provide a strong floor for any price dip, analysts and traders said.
The way the market is going, anything is possible, said Heathcote of Investec.
We could see $1,900, we could see it back to $1,700 before you know it, but it would take a very significant change in sentiment to see the latter.
Spot silver edged up half a percent to $40.78 an ounce, easing from a nearly two-week high of $40.86 hit in the previous session. The metal was headed for a 4.7 percent weekly rise, its strongest in a month.
Spot platinum built on gains from the past eight sessions, up 0.4 percent at $1,843.74. The platinum-gold spread dipped toward parity from a premium of about $50 earlier in the week.
(Editing by Simon Webb and Michael Urquhart)