Gold prices rose towards $1,590 an ounce in Europe on Friday, building on the previous session's hefty gains, as a recovery in the euro prompted some buying of the precious metal, with shorts covering amid expectations prices could rise further.
Gold posted its biggest one-day gain since January 25 on Thursday, recovering some ground lost during its longest run of losses in five months. Its reversal has put it on track to end the week 0.4 percent higher.
Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,587.46 an ounce at 12.33pm UAE time, having earlier touched a high of $1,589.10, while US gold futures for June delivery were up $12.50 an ounce at $1,587.40.
The euro recovered from an early four-month low against the dollar to move into positive territory, taking some downward pressure off gold, though confidence in the currency remained weak.
Gold's relationship to heightened risk aversion has been rocky since the start of the crisis. It rose to record highs last year in part because investors were buying the metal as a safe store of value, but as the dollar and treasuries found greater favour as havens, it slipped back along with the euro.
Its price fall to its lowest since January has tempted investors back, however.
"In this multi-crisis environment, we are seeing a change in attitude towards risk in gold, so we are very optimistic," LGT Capital Management analyst Bayram Dincer said.
"We got to the point where the year-to-date performance was zero, and from a risk perspective people started to recognise that this was somewhere with lower risk compared to other asset classes."
Among other assets, European shares opened sharply lower, and were on track for their biggest weekly decline since November, after Spanish banks were downgraded by Moody's overnight and Fitch cut its debt rating for Greece.
These concerns also lifted Spanish and Italian bond yields.
"Yesterday, gold defied a stronger dollar, weaker equities, and another raft of negative EU headlines (to rise). It felt like the gold market of yesteryears," UBS said in a note.
"To see a return of gold reacting positively to macro stresses is indeed refreshing, but it is still far too early to make any firm conclusions from here that gold has indeed turned the corner," it added. "Momentum will be key, and follow-through buying will have to kick in to encourage investors to jump in."
"More importantly, gold's reaction function will have to consistently exhibit its safe haven properties, and do so for some time to attract strategic buying."
Holdings of gold-backed exchange-traded funds tracked by Reuters, which issue securities backed by physical metal, edged up 76,000 ounces on Thursday, but remained under the 70 million ounce level they slipped below a week ago.
Among other precious metals, silver was up 1.3 percent at $28.36 an ounce.
The gold/silver ratio, which measures the number of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold, eased back from its highest since late December as silver outperformed gold in a rising market, to around 56.
Spot platinum was up 0.8 percent at $1,456.74 an ounce, while spot palladium was up 0.9 percent at $603.22 an ounce. Both metals underperformed surging gold prices, with the gold:platinum ratio rising to a 3-1/2 month high at 1.09.
As chiefly industrial metals used in autocatalysts, platinum and palladium are more exposed than gold to the economic cycle, and have suffered from a lack of car demand in recent years. Industry players gathered in London from Platinum Week this week were pessimistic that prices would recover soon.
"Ever-tightening margins should reduce the appetite for investment in the sector, and that should, in turn, result in slower production growth," RBS said in a note. "(We) continue to see rising production costs as a key driver of a sustainably higher platinum price in the future."
In a rare positive story for the metal, a senior official of Hong Kong-based jeweller Luk Fook said that China's platinum jewellery market, the world's largest, has great potential for growth as rising wealth fuels luxury product demand.