A gold store in Beijing. Bullion is headed for its 11th straight annual gain, the longest winning streak since at least 1920, as investors diversify away from other investment vehicles. Image Credit: Bloomberg

London: Gold may rise above a record $2,000 (Dh7,345) an ounce this year as concerns about slowing economies, low interest rates and debt crises boost investment to an all-time high in the second half, Thomson Reuters GFMS said.

Investment will climb to 1,069 metric tonnes this half from 624 tonnes in the first six months, the London-based researcher said Thursday in a report. Net purchases by central banks will jump to 336 tonnes this year as jewellery consumption stays little changed, it said. The metal reached its current record of $1,921.15 (Dh7,056) an ounce on September 6.

Bullion is headed for an 11th straight annual gain, the longest winning streak since at least 1920, as investors diversify away from equities and some currencies. Central banks are expanding reserves for the first time in a generation as holdings in exchange-traded products backed by the metal total more than all except four central banks.

Eurozone problems

"We're still seeing a continuation of Eurozone problems, the possible spread of that sovereign-debt issue to the US and ongoing concerns about the global economy," Neil Meader, a research director at GFMS, said in an interview from London. "Where else do your park your money?"

Immediate-delivery gold traded at $1,808.95 in London yesterday and is up 27 per cent this year. The metal has outperformed global equities, commodities and Treasuries. There may be "considerable price volatility" as bullion advances toward $2,000, preceded by "a period of softness," the researcher said.

The Federal Reserve has taken the unprecedented step of saying it will keep borrowing costs near zero at least through mid-2013 to support the US economy as European policy makers debate how to stop the region's debt crisis from worsening.

Total first-half investment of 624 tonnes was down 24 per cent from a year earlier, GFMS said. Official coin sales will rise 5.2 per cent to 122 tonnes in the second half from the first as bar purchases fall 8.1 per cent to 510 tonnes, according to the researcher. Still, bar demand this year will jump 24 per cent from 2010 as annual coin buying increases 12 per cent, it said.

"There is an element of price acceptance, but I think it's more the case that jewellery is shifting to become more of an investment vehicle rather than just an adornment," Meader said.