Gold prices hit 8-month high as Russia-Ukraine tensions mount

Gold prices climbed to an eight-month high on Tuesday, as heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine prompted investors to shun riskier assets and opt for safe-haven bullion.

Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,876.71 per ounce, as of 0350 GMT, after hitting its highest level since June 11 at $1,878.88 earlier in the day.

US gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,879.00.

Due to the Ukraine crisis, gold is supported through the inflation channel because of higher crude oil prices and through the risk aversion channel because of lower stocks, said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

“If we lose that Ukraine impulse, then gold comes off quite quickly,” Innes said.

Asian shares dropped as investors contemplated the implications of a potential imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The (gold) market seems to be ignoring major central banks right now because investors are lost in the fog of war and it becomes very difficult to have a salient macro or fundamental view in this type of market where you really have to just go trade on a hair trigger,” Innes said.

Bullion is usually perceived as a hedge against geopolitical conflicts, and with simmering tensions surrounding Ukraine, spot gold has risen about 5% since Jan. 31, set for a 10th session of gains in 12.

Supporting bullion on Tuesday, benchmark US 10-year Treasury yields eased, decreasing the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-paying gold, while a slightly weaker dollar helped make the metal more attractive for overseas buyers.

US Federal Reserve officials continued sparring over how aggressively to begin interest rate hikes at their March meeting, with a final inflation reading just ahead of the two-day session taking on potentially outsized importance.

Among other precious metals, spot silver gained 0.3% to $23.91 per ounce and platinum added 0.1% to $1,029.19, while palladium dipped 0.3% to $2,353.18.