THE Valentine Day’s special at Sharps Pixley, London’s first high-street bullion showroom, is a £115 ($166) rose dipped in gold. But what that special someone would really want is the £27,000 “kilobar”, smaller than a slab of chocolate but reassuringly weighty in this time of turmoil in financial markets. Both have sold well since the shop opened last month, says Ross Norman, the boss. Yet he is struck by how “apologetic” his British clients are about buying gold. It suggests many are novices, gingerly placing their first bets against the global economy.

They are not alone. From libertarians in America to Indian housewives, gold’s fans have helped push spot prices up sharply this year, defying the rout in global commodity markets (although gold also defied the prior boom in commodities—see chart). In early trading on February 11th gold surged above $1,200 an ounce, its highest level in more than eight months, amid a big sell-off in global stockmarkets. Mr Norman notes that January rallies in the past two years quickly petered out, partly for seasonal reasons: retail buying in the…Continue reading

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