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Gold prices top $1,600 an ounce on debt worries



NEW YORK (AP) -- Gold prices topped $1,600 an ounce Monday as debt problems flared in the United States and Europe.


Gold for August delivery settled up $12.30 at $1,602.40 an ounce. The price was a record in dollar terms but below the peak reached in the 1980s after accounting for inflation. Silver, platinum and palladium also rose while other commodities mostly fell.


The price of gold has been rising since July 1 on concerns about Europe's financial problems, including Greece's debt crisis and the prospect that they could spread to countries such as Italy and Spain.


Greece may be declared in default by credit rating agencies if banks are involved in a second bailout of the debt-ridden country. European leaders will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the terms of the Greece deal.


In Washington, President Barack Obama and congressional members are debating ways to raise the U.S. government debt limit before an Aug. 2 deadline.


Questions about how the problems will be resolved have prompted investors to buy more gold and silver, which are considered relatively stable stores of value, particularly during uncertain times and when other financial markets are volatile.


Edward Meir, a senior commodities analyst at MF Global, said where the price of gold is headed will depend largely on what happens with the debt negotiations on both continents.


Silver for September delivery rose $1.271 to settle at $40.342 an ounce, October platinum gained $19.90 to $1,775.40 an ounce and September palladium rose $13.95 to $794.60 an ounce. September copper fell 1 cent to settle at $4.403 a pound.


In other trading, energy and agricultural products were mostly lower as the dollar grew stronger against other currencies. Commodities are priced in dollars so a stronger dollar makes them more expensive for investors who use other currencies.


Corn prices rose as forecasters predicted more favorable weather for parts of the Midwest. Analysts have said that shortages of the grain can only be alleviated by a bumper crop of corn this year.


Corn for December delivery fell 8 cents to settle at $6.77 a bushel, September wheat dropped 5.25 cents to $6.895 a bushel and November soybeans fell 0.75 cent to $13.8625 a bushel.


Benchmark crude for August delivery fell $1.31 to settle at $95.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


In other Nymex contracts, heating oil dropped 4.03 cents to settle at $3.0777 per gallon, gasoline fell 3.19 cents to $3.0974 per gallon and natural gas gained 0.4 cent to $4.524 per 1,000 cubic feet.




Copyright 2011 The AP.



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