07/13/2011 11:54 EDT | Updated 09/12/2011 05:12 EDT

Gold Soars To Record On Debt Fears

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CBC -- The price of gold hit a record high Wednesday as investors continued to flock to the precious metal as a perceived safe haven amid global financial turmoil.

In early New York trading, August gold futures contracts soared $17.70 to $1,580 US an ounce. Spot gold prices also hit a record.

Gold has risen for eight straight trading sessions as European debt worries gained new traction. Tuesday's downgrade of Ireland's credit rating to junk status also rattled financial markets.

"With European sovereign debt fears intensifying again, [and] little clarity on what Eurozone officials intend to do next ..., gold has been a beneficiary," said UBS analyst Edel Tully in a report. "This should, in theory, be gold's time to shine as a safe haven and as an alternative currency."

The inability of the White House and Republican leaders to reach a deal on the U.S. debt ceiling added to gold's appeal, analysts said.

Bullion prices also got a boost from the release Tuesday of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve that seemed to hint that some members of its key Open Market Committee were open to the possiblity of further quantitative easing measures to stimulate the economy.

Gold prices are up 11 per cent so far this year and have more than doubled in the last four years.