Gold prices up in Asia as risk concerns drive buying

Gold prices gained in Asia on Monday despite some dollar strength seen against the yen as risk concerns helped the yellow metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery traded at $1,327.80 a troy ounce after hitting a high on Friday of $1,324.90, the most since March 24.

The precious metal ended the week with a gain of 1.53%.

Safe haven demand for gold was boosted on Thursday, amid steep declines in global markets, which saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq index drop 3.1%, its biggest daily loss since August 2011.

Heightened geopolitical risk also continued to underpin gold prices as Ukraine's government attempted to reassert control in the eastern city of Slaviansk, after pro-Russian separatists seized power.

Gold, seen as a safe haven investment, usually benefits from economic and geopolitical turmoil.

Gold prices also strengthened after Wednesday’s minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting eased fears over a rate hike.

The Fed’s March meeting minutes showed that policymakers discussed whether to keep interest rates at record lows until inflation moves higher, and did not elaborate on a possible timeframe for when rates could start to rise.

Last month the U.S. central bank reduced the monthly pace of purchases by $10 billion, to $55 billion, and repeated it is likely to continue paring the program in “further measured steps.”

Gold prices had tumbled from a six-month high in mid-March, after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that interest rates could start to rise around six months after the end of the Fed's bond purchasing program, suggesting a rate hike could occur in the early parts of 2015.

Elsewhere in metals trading, copper futures for May delivery traded up 0.35% to $3.051 a pound. Last week, Comex copper prices gained 0.23%.

Silver futures for May delivery traded up 0.89% $20.123 a troy ounce, after settling last week up 0.29%.