[SINGAPORE] Gold climbed above US$1,100 an ounce for the first time in nine weeks on Thursday as investors channelled money into the safe-haven metal amid a global stock market rout, worries over the Chinese economy and heightened geopolitical tensions.
China stocks fell 7 per cent on Thursday after less than half an hour of trading, triggering a circuit breaker that will keep Shanghai and Shenzhen markets closed for the rest of the day.
China also guided the yuan sharply lower, deepening concerns about the economy and sending Asian shares to a three-month low.
Spot gold rose to a nine-week high of US$1,102.80 an ounce, before paring some gains to trade up 0.4 per cent at US$1,098.20 by 0258 GMT. US gold futures also jumped for a fourth straight session to a nine-week high of US$1,102.50.
"Gold continued to climb with rising safe-haven demand amid the rebound in market volatility. Rising equities losses and surprising devaluation of the yuan are painting a positive picture for gold," ANZ said.
Gold, often seen as an alternative investment during times of geopolitical and financial uncertainty, benefited from the risk-averse sentiment in the market along with other haven assets such as the Japanese yen and US Treasuries.
"Gold is clearly re-establishing its role as a safe-haven. For as long as global stock markets - in particular China's - appear wobbly, gold is likely to attract a good bid," HSBC analyst James Steel said.
A raft of data releases from China in coming weeks is likely to show activity continuing to slow, adding to global concerns about the country's economic outlook for 2016.
The World Bank on Wednesday cut its global economic growth forecast for 2016, citing the weak performance of major emerging market economies.
Adding to market fears was North Korea's announcement it had successfully tested a powerful nuclear bomb on Wednesday, a move that escalated tensions in the Korean peninsula.
The news came just days after tensions flared in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran after Riyadh executed a Shi'ite cleric critical of Saudi policy.
Bullion was also supported by a softer dollar and the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meet. The minutes assured markets that the Fed would hike rates gradually this year.
Among other precious metals, silver and platinum rose about 0.6 per cent each.
Palladium, which as an autocatalyst metal is more exposed to economic weakness, slid to a 5-year low of US$501 an ounce before paring the losses to trade flat.