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Gold Hits New Record Above $880 an Ounce

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JACKIE FARWELL | January 8, 2008 04:52 PM EST | AP

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NEW YORK — Gold futures soared to an all-time record above $880 an ounce Tuesday as rebounding oil prices added to the metal's allure as a safe haven against inflation.

Other commodities also traded higher on inflation worries, and speculation that a weak dollar will make U.S. exports more attractive.

An ounce of gold for February delivery climbed as high as $884 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, topping by almost $10 its previous record of $875 set in 1980. It later settled at $880.30, up $18.30.

When adjusted for inflation, however, gold remains far short of its all-time high. An ounce of gold at $875 in 1980 would be worth $2,115 to $2,200 today.

March silver rose 52.5 cents to settle at $15.815 an ounce Tuesday, while copper climbed 15.75 cents to $3.2985 a pound.

Rising prices for oil and other commodities, combined with a weaker U.S. dollar, have boosted the price of gold. Those factors have increased the metal's allure as a hedge against inflation; gold is also seen as a safe investment against political and economic uncertainty.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery advanced $1.24 to settle at $96.33 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar dipped against the euro. The 15-nation currency was worth $1.4710 in late New York trading, up from $1.4696 Monday.

A cheap dollar can make commodities more attractive as an alternative investment, and can also raise demand from foreign buyers as their currencies gain strength.

Agricultural futures also settled higher Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade. Concerns about inflation and dry weather in South America boosted prices. Meanwhile, traders acted on long-term positions early in the new year.

March corn rose 12.5 cents to end at $4.7875 a bushel, and the July contract earlier hit $5 a bushel. Forecasts for more dry weather in Argentina's corn belt supported prices, said Elaine Kub, a commodity markets analyst with DTN.

Corn futures have "kind of been hanging in the shadow of soybeans recently," she said.

March soybeans rose 17.25 cents to settle at $12.67 a bushel. The contract last week reached its highest levels since 1973 on expectations for robust exports in 2008 and continued strong demand from China.

Wheat for March delivery climbed 4.5 cents to end at $9.075 a bushel and March oats gained 6 cents to $3.3325 a bushel.