The price of gold surged to a record high Tuesday as investors' fears about the economy and the stock market added new luster to the metal's reputation as a haven.
Near-term gold futures in New York rocketed $18.40 to $878 an ounce. That surpassed the intraday high of $873 reached in futures trading on Jan. 21, 1980 -- the last hurrah of gold's wild rally of that era.
The metal had rocketed 31% last year when it was boosted in part by the weak dollar, which drove some global investors to favor gold as a better store of value than the U.S. greenback.
On Tuesday, another tumble in stock prices sent some investors into gold as a hiding place, analysts said.
"There's extraordinary investor appetite for gold which seems relentless," said Stephen Briggs, an analyst at banking firm Societe Generale. "The buying just seems to go on and on and on."
Doubters have said gold's rally would be a passing fad, but the metal's price has risen every year since 2001, when one ounce cost less than $300.
Despite gold's climb above its 1980 peak, experts noted that the price was far below the old peak when adjusted for inflation over the last 28 years.
The price would have to reach more than $2,200 an ounce to equal its level in 1980, according to the World Gold Council, a group funded by the mining industry.
Silver futures also shot higher on Tuesday. Near-term futures gained 52.7 cents to $15.71 an ounce in New York.
The rally in precious metals has been a boon for miners' stocks.
Barrick Gold Corp. surged $2.04 to $49.28 on Tuesday. The stock has zoomed 17% this year after rising 37% in 2007.
Other mining stocks rallying on Tuesday included Agnico Eagle Mines, up $1.98 to $60.51; Newmont Mining Corp., up $1.26 to $52.78; and Yamana Gold Inc., up $1.02 to $15.38.