LONDON: Gold prices hit fresh record highs this week during a roller-coaster week for commodities, as investors tracked growing expectations that the global economy was heading towards fresh recession.
Prices took a knock on Friday along with stock markets, in part owing to scepticism over a plan to boost jobs in the United States, traders said.
"Macroeconomic data and associated sentiment held sway over the trajectory of commodity prices this week and sensitivity to the macro picture remains acute," said Barclays Capital analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan.
The eurozone debt crisis threatens to create pockets of recession and a great degree of uncertainty, a gloomy OECD report said on Thursday.
Gold, seen as a safe bet in times of economic uncertainty, jumped on Tuesday to a record high price of $1,921.15 an ounce on the London Bullion Market but fell over the week as profit-taking set in.
The precious metal's status as a safe haven was meanwhile set to strengthen after Switzerland this week shocked markets by weakening its currency.
The Swiss National Bank on Tuesday placed a floor on the euro's value against a surging Swiss franc, which like gold is seen as a traditional safe bet among investors.
"This surprise move from the SNB is gold beneficial in the long run," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, a commodities analyst at Russian financial group VTB Capital.
"And, assuming that risk aversion escalates from here, bullion is still your investor darling."
The SNB set a minimum exchange rate of 1.20 francs per euro, saying the current value of the Swiss currency was a threat to the economy.
The Swiss franc has risen strongly in response to the eurozone debt crisis, hitting Swiss exporters and the tourism industry hard.
Gold meanwhile has set a series of record highs over the past few months.
"Longer-term, this SNB decision should strengthen gold's claim as a safe-haven asset and will likely be much in demand for wealth preservation," said Credit Agricole analyst Robin Bhar. Gold is also a good hedge against inflation.
By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold fell to $1,851 an ounce
from $1,875.25 the previous week.
Silver dipped to $41.40 an ounce from $42.06.
On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum retreated to $1,842 an ounce from $1,873. Palladium decreased to $748 an ounce from $785.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011