Gold prices rose back above $1,900 an ounce yesterday as expectations grew that the United States could implement a further round of monetary easing after Friday's weak payrolls data, while concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis resurfaced.
Stock markets weakened, with the FTSEurofirst 300 sliding 2 per cent in early trade, the euro eased versus the dollar and oil prices fell as investors sold out of assets seen as higher risk in favour of havens like gold and Bunds.
Spot gold was up 0.9 per cent at $1,901.50 an ounce at 0916 GMT. It is one of this year's best-performing commodities, up by more than a third in 2011 to date.
European shares fell on concerns that the United States could be set for recession after Friday's weak payrolls data, while German Bund futures hit record highs ahead of a series of challenges in Europe this week.
Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet said a court ruling due tomorrow that may reduce the freedom of the German government to finance rescues of crisis-hit countries like Greece was supporting interest in safe-haven gold, while a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday will be closely watched.
"There is a growing expectation in the market that we will have to get some policy response from the ECB at some stage," he said. "Whatever that will be, it is more likely to be positive for gold than not. Either they will have to cut rates, or they will have to be more accommodating."
"That just adds to what we're seeing happening in the United States," he said. "It seems that people are more convinced that gold will not come off."
Gold had a choppy month in August, peaking at a record $1,911.46 an ounce and trading within its biggest range in absolute terms since January 1980, when gold hit a record $835 an ounce, or above $2,000 in inflation-adjusted terms.
It is being lifted by expectations that the failure of the US economic recovery to gain traction will force the Federal Reserve to embark on a third round of quantitative easing.
"The positive for gold [after Friday's payrolls US data] lies in the possible policy response to the lack of employment growth," said HSBC in a note.
Managed money in gold futures and options reduced their net length for a fourth straight week to August 30, the latest data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed late on Friday.