What's happening with the gold price as Middle East tensions flare?

After smashing into new record highs, can the gold price continue to climb?

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The gold price topped US$2,400 per ounce on Friday, as news of an imminent Iranian attack on Israel hit the wires.

That attack, a reprisal for Israel's airstrike on Iran's embassy compound in Syria, came on Sunday.

Although most of the 300 plus missiles and drones were shot out of the sky before achieving their targets, Israeli General Herzi Halevi has said the assault "will be met with a response".

Iran, in turn, has said any response from Israel will result in an immediate reprisal of its own.

With the world on edge amid fears of a broadening Middle East conflict, the gold price has benefited from the metal's historic safe haven status.

Bullion was trading for US$2,390 per ounce earlier today and is currently fetching US$2,384 per ounce.

That's up some 20% from the recent lows of US$1,992 per ounce on 14 February.

And while no one wants to see tensions escalate, gold's haven status has proven a boon recently for S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) gold stocks.

Since 15 February, for example, the ASX 200 is up 1% while the Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) share price has leapt 19%. Gold mining giant Newmont Corp (ASX: NEM) shares are up 16% over that same time, while shares in Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX: EVN) have gained more than 30%.

And despite the new record highs, the gold price could surge far higher from here, boosting the profit outlook for ASX 200 gold stocks.

Gold price rise defies high interest rates

The gold price has been charging higher despite an increasing likelihood that the US Federal Reserve will hold interest rates higher for longer amid a resilient economy and sticky inflation.

And that strength looks to be driven by its haven status in these turbulent times.

According to Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals (quoted by Reuters):

What's really telling about the strength of gold is the US dollar index and Treasury yields are climbing, yet gold continues to rally strongly. That's very indicative of strong safe haven demand.

Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank believes that despite the big run higher, the gold price trend "will continue to be positive".

"Gold has pushed back against some data that should have typically been negative. It will be somewhat healthy to see a correction in the bull's market, but the trend will continue to be positive," Gaffney said on Friday, when the Iranian attack was flagged as imminent but had not yet occurred.

Following on that attack Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Group said the escalating situation in the Middle East is "a reason in itself to buy gold".

Weston also forecasts more gains for the yellow metal over the medium-term. "There's a sizable geopolitical premium being priced into moves," he said (quoted by Bloomberg).

Among the prominent analysts forecasting a higher gold price to come are those at Goldman Sachs.

With late 2024 interest cuts in mind, Goldman Sachs upped its end of the year target for the gold price to US$2,700 per ounce.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Goldman Sachs Group. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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