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BS: Gold jumps as investors seek haven
 
Gold rose the most in two weeks on demand for a haven as the credit crisis deepened in Europe. Silver dropped.

Equities in the UK fell the most since 1987. BNP Paribas SA said it will buy Fortis's units in Belgium and Luxembourg after government intervention failed, and Germany is planning a rescue of the nation's second-biggest commercial-property lender.

Gold dropped 6.2% last week as the US passed a $US700 billion ($980 billion) package to bail out banks.

``This is truly a financial panic,'' said Leonard Kaplan, president of Prospector Asset Management in Evanston, Illinois. ``It's obvious safe-haven buying for gold. One bank after another is going under in Europe. And what's scaring people is that they don't have all the safeguards that we do in this country.''

Gold futures for December delivery rose $US33, or 4%, to $US866.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. That marked the biggest%age gain for a most-active contract since Sept. 22. The metal reached a record $US1,033.90 on March 17.

The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials slumped as much as 4.8% with only gold posting a gain.

Silver futures for December delivery fell 4 cents, or 0.4%, to $US11.285 an ounce. The metal, which has wider industrial applications than gold, tumbled 16% last week on speculation a global recession will reduce demand for raw materials.

The euro fell as much as 2.3% against the dollar and posted the biggest decline against the yen since 1999, when the 15-nation currency debuted. Gold priced in euros traded at 646, approaching the all-time high of 647.56 on March 5.

`Nightmare scenario'

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 800 points in afternoon trading in New York. The gauge plunged 7.3% last week.

``This is a nightmare scenario,'' said Ron Goodis, a retail trading director at Equidex Brokerage Group Inc. in Closter, New Jersey. ``This is very dangerous because the market isn't reacting the way people wanted it to. They're not calm. What are they going to do next? I don't think the Fed wants to lower interest rates without coordinating with other central banks.''

Subprime losses

Since the second quarter of 2007, banks worldwide have posted $US584.6 billion in writedowns and losses related to investments in subprime mortgages.

Gold lease rates are rising as credit conditions tighten, analysts said. The one-month Libor-Gold Forward Offered Rate reached 1.9% today, the highest since 2001.


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