By Kishori Krishnan Exclusive To Gold Investing News

The number one issue among gold advocates and proponents today is trying to ascertain the future for gold in 2009 and indeed into 2010. The price of the yellow metal has been on the upswing. After breaking the $940 mark, gold is expected to rise to as high as $950 an ounce in the short term, said Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist at London-based CMC Markets. Most analysts are projecting gold to rise above $1,000 this year, as safe-haven buying and demand for gold as a hedge against inflation are expected to continue.

The gold price in Hong Kong went up 244 HK dollars to 8,700 HK dollars per tael, according to the Bank of China (Hong Kong). The price is equivalent to US $943.17 a troy ounce, up US$26.45.

Gold futures too extended gains, climbing above $940 an ounce to their highest level in nearly seven months, as investors continued to buy the metal amid doubts on new economic rescue plans unveiled in the U.S. The COMEX April gold contract rose 3.3 per cent to $944.50 an ounce. Gold gained more than 2 per cent in the previous session after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner introduced a new plan to rescue the ailing banking sector. Markets, however, cast doubts on the plans. Stocks and crude-oil prices tumbled, while safe-haven buying pushed up gold.

It’s “flight to safety, pure and simple,” said Kitco’s senior analyst, Jon Nadler. Added BNP Paribas analyst Michael Widmer: “There was a lot of disappointment behind the package, either because the measures weren’t concrete enough or because they thought they hadn’t tackled the root cause of the problem. A lot of investors reassessed the risk in the market, and as risk aversion increased, it helped lift the price of gold.”

CMC Markets strategist Ashraf Laidi told Reuters that doubts about the U.S. plan to shore up banks and the economy had led to fears of an escalation of debt issuance. “This combination of further debt escalation with a lack of any economic result is further fortifying gold’s ascent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM.AU) chief executive Ian Smith said Friday he sees a positive outlook for the gold price for the next 18-24 months and that copper prices should also begin to rise as China’s stimulus packages kick in. “We see a positive environment for at least the next 18 to 24 months for gold,” he told Dow Jones. Smith said copper prices appeared to have bottomed at US$1.20 per pound and had now stabilized around US$1.50-US$1.60 a pound.

Evolving Gold Corp. (TSXV:EVG) has announced that metallic screen re-assays have significantly increased gold values in both lower grade and high grade sections. These re-assays indicate potential that the true grade may be significantly higher than indicated by the original 30g fire assays. The company is conducting a larger re-assay program of lower grade intervals using metallic screen assay protocols.

Company News

Red Back closes $165 million public offering. The underwriters, co-led by Cormark Securities Inc., BMO Capital Markets, GMP Securities LP and Scotia Capital Inc., exercised their over-allotment option in full, resulting in a total of 22,000,000 shares being issued at closing for gross proceeds of CDN$165,000,000. The net proceeds of the offering will be used by the company to repay in full its existing US$28 million bank credit facility and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Speculators also took a shine to gold drill results, while a takeover bid boosted a small miner. Eagle Plains Resources (TSX:V.EPL) shares climbed 38 per cent after the micro cap explorer has recently been notified by option partner Mountain Capital (TSX: V.MCI) that final results have been received from an 11-hole, 1,390 metre diamond drilling program completed on the Kalum property near Terrace, British Columbia, which included 10.55 metres grading 0.973 grams per tonne (g/t) gold.

As well, shares of Gold Reserve (TSX: T.GRZ) shot up 62 per cent as the company said that Rusoro Mining (TSX:V.RML) is making a take-over bid for Gold Reserve, offering Gold Reserve shareholders and equity unit holders three Rusoro common shares for each Gold Reserve Class A common share and each Gold Reserve equity unit.

Advanced Explorations (TSX: V.AXI) shares powered 13 per cent higher after the junior miner reported the completion of the first tranche of the private placement previously announced on December 3, 2008. A total of 15,999,909 units at a price of 11 cents per unit were sold for gross proceeds of $1,759,989.99.

Shares of Intrepid Mines (TSX: T.IAU) surged 50 per cent fter the Australia-based miner announced that Paulsens, its Western Australian gold mine, has delivered the final ounces to Westpac under existing hedge arrangements.

And, Prestige Telecom (TSX: V.PR) reported that Novare Holding, an arm’s length private company controlled by Guy Laliberte, President of the Major Investor and founder of the largest private entertainment producer in Canada, will be the major investor in its previously announced private placement offering for aggregate gross proceeds of up to $7 million. Its shares surged 62 per cent.