Money Daily Brief: Gold hits new record

Gold futures prices hit a record just below $1,050 an ounce Wednesday.

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    A Malaysian jewelry boutique put these gold bars on display last month. Gold futures hit a new record Wednesday.
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•Precious metal record: Gold futures surged to a new record near $1,050 an ounce as the dollar slumped. The greenback is under pressure because other economies are recovering faster than the US and because of a report that oil-exporting countries held secret talks to replace the dollar with a basket of currencies. Oil producers vehemently denied the report by Robert Fisk, a renowned expert in Middle East affairs.

•Asian markets higher: Major Asian exchanges gained about 1 percent as investors cheered Australia’s unexpected interest-rate hike as a sign of global economic recovery. The Australian dollar hit a 14-month high with further interest rate hikes expected later this year.

Costco earnings: The US discount retailer's earnings beat investor expectations, even though quarterly sales shrank 3 percent on falling gasoline prices and foreign earnings. The stronger-than-expected report followed an 18 percent rise in quarterly earnings at YUM Brands, which owns the KFC restaurant chain. Wall Street bulls predict a strong third quarter for US companies.

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•In my backyard: Although property prices in India have fallen by up to 25 percent and bank lending rates have dipped 4 percentage points over the past year, affordable housing remains beyond the reach of a vast swathe of the burgeoning Indian middle class. In the midst of an acute housing shortage – 24 million homes in urban areas – banks are rolling out tempting loan offers to woo customers ahead of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. The government is considering a program that would ensure that mortgage payments for lower-income families don't exceed 25 to 30 percent of their monthly income.

Anuj Chopra is a Monitor correspondent in Pune, India. For a look at how private US groups are expanding housing options for the poor, see Affordable housing a boon for social investors.

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