Gold is sexy again — price jumps above $1,300

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NEW YORK — As Austin Powers would say, gold is groovy again.

The precious metal’s price continues to soar, surpassing $1,300 per ounce Thursday. That’s its highest point since August when the Russia-Ukraine conflict was escalating.

Since the start of 2015, gold has jumped nearly 10% as investors grow fearful again and central banks tinker with economic policy.

Between the currency shock from Switzerland, the ongoing oil price plunge and concerns the European Central Bank’s new stimulus program, there’s a lot causing volatility in the markets. Wall Street investors want a sure bet, and gold remains top of the list.

“It’s always going to hedge against surprises in the market,” says Erica Rannestad, senior analyst on the GFMS team at Thomson Reuters. “A lot of investors still regard gold as money. It’s a safe haven.”

Even the rallying U.S. dollar — another global safety net — has not put a dent in gold’s growth in January.

Gold’s price is hard to predict because investor sentiment mostly dictates its future more than other metals. While there is some demand for gold from jewelry and industry, the reality is gold performs well during political conflicts. For example, it spiked in 2011 when Greece was on the brink of economic collapse.

“The real swing factor is investor demand,” says Rannestad.

Still, experts predict gold will continue to rise this year. The Chinese New Year typically increases gold purchases, Rannestad says. There’s also rising uncertainty as economies around the world struggle, and the U.S. Federal Reserve begins to raise rates.

The yellow metal could surpass $1,400 per ounce later this year, according to a report by Julian Jessop, head of commodities research at Capital Economics. Jessop revised up his year-end predictions for gold this week.

“The resilience of gold in the face of a surging US currency and collapsing oil price has supported our long-held view that the price of the precious metal will recover further this year and next,” Jessop writes.

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