PRECIOUS-Gold above $1,400 as Mideast violence spreads

Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:47pm GMT

* Gold prices reach highest since early January * Unrest spreads across Middle East, North Africa * Gold:silver ratio slips to lowest since 1998

(Updates prices)

By Jan Harvey

LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose above $1,400 an ounce on Monday for the first time in nearly seven weeks as violence flared in north Africa and the Middle East, boosting interest in the precious metal as a haven from risk.

Tensions have spread across the regions from Egypt and Tunisia, where protests have unseated leaders over the past month or so, threatening the grip of long-entrenched autocratic leaders elsewhere.

Spot gold rose as high as $1,406.80 an ounce and was bid at $1,406.40 an ounce at 1633 GMT, against $1,388.58 late in New York on Friday. U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose $18.90 an ounce to $1,407.50.

Gold priced in euros hit its highest since Jan. 18 at 1,028.94 euros an ounce, and sterling-priced gold its highest since Jan. 14 at 866.65 pounds an ounce.

Dozens of people were reported killed in Tripoli overnight as anti-government protests reached the Libyan capital for the first time and the building where the country's parliament meets was ablaze.

The Libyan uprising is one of a series of revolts that have spread across the Arab world since December, threatening entrenched dynasties from Bahrain to Yemen.   Continued...

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UK £ USD =1.2617
Euro USD =1.1124
Rand USD =0.0764