Gold reaches another new high

The price of gold hit new record levels on Thursday as it reached an intraday trading high of $871.20 US an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices reached another round of fresh highs on Thursday.

The precious metal later finished at a new record settlement price of $869.10 US, up $9.10 US from Wednesday's close.

During earlier intraday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the contract for gold for February delivery hit $872.90 US an ounce.

Higher oil prices, a soft U.S. dollar and world political tensions have all been cited by analysts as reasons behind gold's latest rise.

After adjusting for inflation, however, gold is far from record levels. For prices to hit an inflation-adjusted record high, bullion would need to be worth about $2,200 US an ounce today, depending on which inflation measure is used.

For the second time in two days, the price of oil cracked $100 US but ultimately failed to stay above that lofty level.

Oil prices briefly peaked Thursday at $100.09 US following the release of U.S. government supply data.

In a weekly report, the U.S. Energy Department said U.S. crude oil inventories fell by about four million barrels last week. Analysts had been looking for a drop of 1.7 million barrels.

While oil inventories fell, supplies of gasoline and distillates, which include home heating oil, both rose.

"Any surprises [in the report] are more the result of false expectations as opposed to anything truly remarkable in the data," said Tim Evans, an analyst at Citigroup Inc.

The February delivery contract for light sweet crude eventually retreated from its high of the day, finishing down 44 cents from Wednesday's close at $99.18 US a barrel.

With files from Associated Press