Gold soars into 1980

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Gold hit a new high of $571 an ounce on the New York market Wednesday, just a week after it broke the $500 barrier here. Dealers said that at midday the price of gold was between $570 and $571 -- the highest price in its history.

As markets opened after the New Year's holiday, gold reached $561.50 an ounce in Hong Kong, then eased slightly in Europe before moving back above $560. Paris's bullion market shut down early in the morning because it could not cope with the frantic demend.

Dealers attributed the latest price jump to the Iranian and Afghan crises and to fears of further oil price increases.

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Other precious metals have followed gold's price rise. Silver was getting around $38 an ounce on European markets Wednesday, a record level for it, too. Platinum jumped sharply to be fixed at a record high of $720 an ounce. Its previous peak was $700 an ounce Dec. 27.

The rush to precious metals had some effect on the dollar, although trading on the foreign-exchange markets was reported quiet and moderate.

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