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Global Financial Crisis, the Sequel is coming? Print E-mail

Welcome to the 116th Issue of Weekly e-newsletter by This week I like to share with you "Global Financial Crisis, the Sequel is coming?   


If you have friends who like to receive this information-rich FREE Weekly E-Newsletter, ask them to go to our website where they can sign up immediatelyand get a FREE Special Report "How to cut your tax legally by 23% to 59%?"


Dennis Ng, - help you get BEST Deal in Housing Loans in Singapore & Australia  


Global Financial Crisis, the Sequel is coming? 


The world seems to be recovering from the Global Financial Crisis, everything is going well. Right?


Nothing bad can happen, is that true? 


The Dubai debt problem that occurred 2 weeks ago is not a big problem in itself. Just look at the Big Picture. Dubais total debt is about US$84 billion, so even in the worst case scenario, that Dubai totally cannot repay its debt a single cent, it is just a US$84 billion problem. (unlikely, since even in liquidation, you can get back at least 30 cents per dollar owed in a typical scenario). 


In this Global Financial Crisis, the countries over the world, including U.S. have poured more than US$ 2 trillion into the markets. So what is an additional US$84 billion to a over US$2 trillion problem the world already faced? So even if Dubai falls it will not cause another Financial Crisis. 


Just when things seem calm, Greece is the one that shocks the world next. Greece is actually a much bigger problem than Dubai. 


Do you know that Greeces total debt is about 270 billion ( or US$402 billion), its total debt is about 90% of its GDP.

According to information from wikipedia, below is a list of the countries with Total Debt exceeding 50% of its GDP.  


The Global Financial Crisis was triggered by U.S. Subprime Debt which led to troubles at the worlds biggest financial institutionsis the Sequel coming? 


Would the 2nd Wave of the Global Financial Crisis be triggered by Sovereign Debt? By countries, one by one, especially those which are financially weak and borrowed heavily, taking a big drag on Global Economies as one by one, they announce their troubles?


Are Dubai and Greece the only ones, this is a question we need to ask.  


I'm not a doomsayer. I remembered I warned of a possible Global Financial Crisis in Oct 2007, when most people said the subprime crisis is a small problem.beware of the domino effect, Eurozone might be the next to be in trouble, as Greece (a member country is causing cracks in Euro).....Japan is in deflation and Japans debts is also very high according to wikipedia.  


Expect the unexpected, as my sifu who taugh me about Stock Investing, always remind me. 


I hope that my fears are unfounded.  


Note: above is just my personal opinion. This e-newsletter is not giving you advice. 


We help consumers compare all the Housing Loan packages so as to help them get the BEST deal.  


How much do we charge for our service? As we're paid by banks separately, we have decided NOT to charge a fee for our service. Therefore, this service is FREE to you and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by engaging our service. Just call us at 6737 8801 or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it om

if you're considering to buy a property or refinance your Housing Loan, whether in Singapore or in Australia and you want to make sure you get "pre-approval" of loan before you commit your cash.



Dennis Ng on behalf of get you BEST Deal in Housing Loan in BOTH Singapore and Australia! 


6737 8801 or 6339 9255


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Copyright year 2009, LEVERAGE HOLDINGS PTE LTD

Dennis to speak at Popular BookFest on 12 Dec (Sat) and 15 Dec (Tue) Print E-mail

Popular bookstore is organising "BookFest@Singapore 09 at Suntec Convention Hall level 4, 401-404 from 11 Dec to 20 Dec 2009. Dennis is invted to conduct a talk "Mastering Your Personal Finance" on (Mandarin Talk)

 Date: 12 Dec (Sat) Time: 12.30 pm to 1.30 pmVenue: Suntec City Convention Hall, Level 4, Hall 401 to 404, BookFest.

Admission: FREE (NO Registration for talk is needed, just be there).

If you miss this date, Dennis will be speaking for a 2nd time at another session on 15 Dec 2009 (Tue), 7 pm to 8 pm

Dennis Ng (吴加万), author of Bestselling Book "Mastering Your Personal Finance" "如何做个理", this makes History as the Very First Bilingual (Chinese/English) book on Personal Finance written!

You can buy the book online at 20% Discount here:

You can check details of the BookFest here:

Talk: Mastering Your Personal Finance (Mandarin Talk)
1. What is Financial Independence?
2. Why Financial Planning is Like Soccer?
3. Why playing "safe" can be dangerous?
4. Should you aim to be debt-free as soon as possible?
5. What investments can give you more than 5% annual returns?
6. How can an average person become Millionaire?
Informal Talk by Dennis on 28 Nov 2009 at Changi Airport Terminal 3... Print E-mail

On 28 Nov 2009 (Sat), Dennis will be conducting an informal talk at Changi Airport Terminal 3, Basement 1, near Car Park 3B. 


Time: 7 pm to 8 pm.Venue: Changi Airport Terminal 3, Basement 1.


Event: Informal talk and Book Autograph Session.


Admission: FREE (No registration for Talk is needed).


How An Average Person Can Become Rich? 


Why do the Rich get Richer and the Poor get Poorer? 


Why do most Singaporeans do not have enough money to retire when they reach age 60? 


Is it possible for an average person to be Financially Free at age 40? 


What are the Common Mistakes In Investing? 


What’s the problem with the “diversification” advice given by Financial Planners? 


You can also buy this book online at Special Price of S$15.90 at this url: 


P.S. this Book entitles you to have 2 FREE Tickets to attend a 2-hour Talk on “Mastering Your Personal Finance” by Dennis Ng, details in the book itself).  


the book will be mailed to you within Singapore for no extra charges, about 2 weeks after payment. 


About Dennis Ng

Dennis Ng is an Accountant by training and a Certified Financial Planner with 16 years of Bank Lending experience. He founded - a leading Mortgage Consultancy in Singapore in year 2003 and is often quoted by Straits Times, Business Times TODAYand Lianhe WanBao for comments on financial matters.  


In May 2009, he launched – a Financial Education Portal and in the same month he launched the Very First Chinese/English Book on Personal Finance in Singapore entitled "Mastering Your Personal Finance"."如何做个理"



Fears of a Bubble as Cash Pours In... Print E-mail

Common sense is uncommon. U.S. got the whole world into a Financial Crisis becos of low interest rates of 1% from year 2003 to 2004 leading to over-borrowing and Property Bubble.

They are solving the current Crisis with EVEN lower interest rates (0.25%), even more borrowing by U.S. govt.....without realising they are in the process of creating another Property bubble in Asia, espeically China, HK and even Singapore.




Dennis Ng, - when you Master Your Finances, You Master Your Destiny

4 Nov 2009
Fears of a New Bubble as Cash Pours In
Real-Estate, Stock and Currency Markets, Especially in Asia and Pacific, Are Seen at Risk

Concerns are mounting that efforts by governments and central banks to stoke a recovery will create a nasty side effect: asset bubbles in real-estate, stock and currency markets, especially in Asia.


The World Bank warned Tuesday that the sudden reappearance of billions of dollars in investment capital in East Asia is "raising concerns about asset price bubbles" in equity markets across Asia and in real estate in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. Also Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund cited "a risk" that surging Hong Kong asset prices are being driven by a flood of capital "divorced from fundamental forces of supply and demand."


Behind the trend are measures such as cutting interest rates and pumping money into the financial system, which have left parts of the world awash in cash and at risk of bubbles, or run-ups in asset prices beyond what economic fundamentals suggest are reasonable.


Prices are surging across a host of markets. Gold, up about 44% this year, soared to a record high Tuesday. Copper is up about 50% in the past year. In the U.S., risky assets are rising rapidly in price: The risk spreads, or interest-rate premiums, on low-rated junk bonds have narrowed to about where they were in February 2008, before Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers fell, according to Barclays Capital.


Policy makers from Beijing to London, seared by the fallout from burst housing and credit bubbles, are searching for ways to head off new ones. How to handle a bubble "is one of the big two or three unanswered questions at the end of this crisis," says Adair Turner, chairman of the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Seong-tae hinted last month he would raise interest rates, if necessary, to prevent Seoul's housing market from lurching out of control.


"This is the beginning of another big and excessive run-up in asset prices," said Simon Johnson, a former IMF chief economist.


The symptoms of a frenzy are most evident in Asia and the Pacific, where economies are recovering most quickly. In Hong Kong, high-end real-estate prices are soaring. A luxury flat in the tony Midlevels district is expected to sell for US$55.6 million, or $9,200 a square foot, said developer Henderson Land Development Co. Elsewhere, a bidder at a city-run auction to operate food stands at February's Lunar New Year celebration recently paid a record US$63,225 for the right to occupy a 400-square-foot stall to sell fish balls and other snacks. Prices in the auction of 180 stalls were up 33% from 2008.


Over the summer, a Singapore condominium developer raised prices 5% the day before units went on sale. After dozens of would-be buyers lined up on a steamy night, the developer -- a joint venture of Hong Leong Group and Japan's Mitsui Fudosan -- held a lottery for a chance to bid on the units. Singapore home prices rose 15.8% in the third quarter, the fastest rate in 28 years.


Australian real-estate markets also have heated up. After a Melbourne property-research firm recently predicted that average home prices will double over the next 12 years, a news report in Australia's Herald Sun said: "The staggering prediction shows the importance of buying a home as soon as you can afford it because the longer buyers delay, the more chance there is that their dream will slip out of their reach."


The Australian dollar has jumped about 35% over the past 12 months as investors borrow in U.S. dollars to purchase Australian currency. The practice is propelling stock and bond markets faster than in the U.S. and Europe. Currency traders are betting that the Australian central bank, which raised interest rates by 0.25% on Tuesday, the second rise in two months, will continue tightening.


Asian stock prices are shooting up, in part due to low interest rates in the U.S. Investors looking for higher yields are borrowing in U.S. dollars and then pouring that money "into countries that are growing more rapidly," said Stephen Cecchetti, chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements, the central banks' central bank, which warned early of the last asset bubble and is beginning to do so again. "That runs the risk of creating property and equity booms in those countries."

About $53 billion has gone into emerging-market stock funds this year, according to data collector EPFR Global. Through Monday's trading, the broad MSCI Barra Emerging Markets Index this year was up 60.7%. Brazil was up 100%, and Indonesia had gains of 102.7%. Over the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.5%.


Discerning a bubble is as difficult as preventing one. Rapidly rising prices aren't definitive proof. Stocks in Asian emerging markets currently trade at about two times book value, about average for the past 20 years, according to UBS. From 2004 to 2008, the price-to-book-value average was about three times. "This doesn't feel like a bubble," said Hugh Simon, chief executive of Hamon Investment Group, which manages Asia-investment funds. "There's too much skepticism" among investors.


To battle bubbles, policy makers are turning first to regulation. Singapore's authorities tightened mortgage requirements, ended real-estate stimulus policies and pledged to make more land available for development. South Korea regulators tightened real-estate lending requirements in seven districts around Seoul where prices have jumped.


"Even those who say we should respond directly [and deflate bubbles] have no idea how to do it," said Laurence Meyer, a former Fed governor. "It is easy to take a philosophical position, but hard to become operational and practical about it."

—Jon Hilsenrath and John Lyons contributed to this article.
Write to Alex Frangos at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and Bob Davis at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Economic Recovery in Doubt, Stocks Tumbled... Print E-mail

Looks like the Global Stock Market Correction that I warned about is finally here. Wall Street fell by over 300 points in over 4 days to 9,762.69 points.




Dennis Ng,


NEW YORK (Reuters) 28 Oct 2009 - U.S. stocks tumbled in a broad sell-off on Wednesday, sending the benchmark S&P 500 lower for a fourth straight day, after weak data on new home sales heightened concerns about the pace of the economic recovery.


Financials, technology, materials and industrial sectors, which underpinned the market's advance from March, bore the brunt of the slide as investors reassessed their bets.


"The housing data definitely created an additional leg down in the market," said Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist at institutional brokerage firm BTIG in New York. "A lot of people realize that we're correcting right now and are being cautious."


The Nasdaq also logged its fourth straight daily drop. Wednesday's sell-off marked the broader market's worst day of losses in nearly a month.


The S&P 500 is now up 54.1 percent from the 12-year closing low of March 9. At Wednesday's close, it showed a drop of 5.04 percent from its post-March closing peak reached a week ago on October 19.


The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 119.48 points, or 1.21 percent, to 9,762.69 -- its third triple-digit drop in four days. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 20.78 points, or 1.95 percent, to 1,042.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC slid 56.48 points, or 2.67 percent, to 2,059.61.


During the session, both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq broke below key technical levels as the sell-off accelerated. Both indexes closed below their 50-day moving average for the first time since July, a bearish technical signal.


Additionally, the S&P 500 wiped out its gains for October and is now on the verge of snapping a string of seven months of gains.


The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, Wall Street's favorite fear gauge, ended up 12.5 percent, its biggest one-day percentage gain since August.


Among financials, JPMorgan (JPM.N) shares fell 2.8 percent to $42.68, American Express Co (AXP.N) dropped 3.6 percent to $34.67, and the S&P financial index .GSPF shed 3.2 percent.



U.S. Stocks Fell for 2nd Straight Day... Print E-mail

The beginning of the "Stock Market Correcction?" Dow fell for a second day by about 104 points again, to end at 9,867.96 points.




Dennis Ng,


By Ellis Mnyandu

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell for a second straight session on Monday as investors ditched home builders and financials on fears lawmakers may let a federal home buyer tax credit expire, while commodity shares succumbed to pressure from the higher U.S. dollar.


Trading was choppy. Stocks initially started on firmer footing, with indexes up more than 1 percent shortly after the open, but the bounce quickly faded as the U.S. dollar rebounded and investors fretted about the financial sector's prospects.


The tax credit has become a hot button issue and Wall Street sold off after an incorrect media headline said research firm, ISI Group, had written the tax credit probably would not be extended when it expires November 30.


The research report, however, was similar to news on Friday that Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to phase out the tax credit over time, and not let it expire. Reid said on Monday the Senate could vote as soon as Tuesday to extend the tax break.


JPMorgan (JPM.N), down 3.1 percent at $43.82, was among the top drags, along with Bank of America (BAC.N), down 5.1 percent at $15.40. The S&P financial index .GSPF slipped 2.5 percent, while the Dow Jones U.S. home construction index .DJUSHB declined 3.4 percent.


"It's a tough sell now to Congress to say we need another extension of the home buyer tax credit when supposedly we are out of the recession, according to economists, and housing is doing well again," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey. "If they are talking more of a phase-out than an extension, that certainly will hurt the market."


Without the home buyer credit, investors worry that the struggling housing market might lose a crucial incentive that has spurred hopes of stabilization in recent months.


The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 104.22 points, or 1.05 percent, to 9,867.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX shed 12.65 points, or 1.17 percent, to 1,066.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC fell 12.62 points, or 0.59 percent, to 2,141.85.


The S&P 500 is now up 57.7 percent from the 12-year closing low of March 9, having slipped from its recovery peak when it was up 62.3 percent from that low.


Financials also came under pressure from the news that Dutch banking, insurance and asset management company ING (ING.AS)(ING.N) will split in two as part of a plan to pay back government bailout funds and return to its retail savings bank roots.


That plan might set a precedent for some of the U.S. institutions that received federal government bailout funds, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.


"If the banks are going to focus on mainly repaying the government, they are not going to lend, they are going to cut back on mortgages, and make it even stricter to get a mortgage," he said. "It's the domino effect and that hurts the home builders."


Among home builders' shares, luxury home builder Toll Brothers (TOL.N) slumped 4.2 percent to $18.36 and those of No. 3 U.S. homebuilder Lennar Corp (LEN.N) shed 4 percent to $13.57. Beazer Home (BZH.N), the ninth-largest U.S. home builder, declined 4.4 percent to $4.83.


The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX ended up 9.2 percent, its biggest one-day percentage gain in a month. During the session, the VIX rose as much as 11.6 percent, which marked its biggest intraday percentage jump in nearly two months.


The U.S. dollar rallied from a 14-month low against the euro as falling stock and commodity prices dampened risk appetite, prompting investors to lock in recent gains in other currencies. 

H1N1 Might Trigger Global Correction in Stock Markets... Print E-mail

25 Oct 2009 - Stock markets do not go up in a straight line, as time passes by and as the markets stay up longer, the chance of a correction is increasing day by day....just my personal opinion.

What might "trigger" Global Stock Markets' Correction?   The Spread of H1N1.....U.S. President Obama has just declared a national emergency against H1N1.




Dennis Ng,


Obama declares H1N1 emergency

October 25, 2009 -- Updated 1400 GMT (2200 HKT)


Hundreds of residents line up for free H1N1 vaccinations Friday at a Los Angeles, California, area clinic.

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama has declared a national emergency to deal with the "rapid increase in illness" from the H1N1 influenza virus.


"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities," Obama said in a statement.


"Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response."


The president signed the declaration late Friday and announced it Saturday.


Calling the emergency declaration "an important tool in our kit going forward," one administration official called Obama's action a "proactive measure that's not in response to any new development." Having trouble finding vaccine? Share your story

Another administration official said the move is "not tied to the current case count" and "gives the federal government more power to help states" by lifting bureaucratic requirements -- both in treating patients and moving equipment to where it's most needed.


The officials didn't want their names used because they were not authorized to speak on the record.


Obama's action allows Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements" to help health care facilities enact emergency plans to deal with the pandemic.

Those requirements are contained in Medicare, Medicaid and state Children's Health Insurance programs, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule.


Since the H1N1 flu pandemic began in April, millions of people in the United States have been infected, at least 20,000 have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Frieden said that having 46 states reporting widespread flu transmission is traditionally the hallmark of the peak of flu season. To have the flu season peak at this time of the year is "extremely unusual."


The CDC said 16.1 million doses of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine had been made by Friday -- 2 million more than two days earlier. About 11.3 million of those had been distributed throughout the United States, Frieden said.


"We are nowhere near where we thought we would be," Frieden said, acknowledging that manufacturing delays have contributed to less vaccine being available than expected. "As public health professionals, vaccination is our strongest tool. Not having enough is frustrating to all of us."
Frieden said that while the way vaccine is manufactured is "tried and true," it's not well-suited for ramping up production during a pandemic because it takes at least six months. The vaccine is produced by growing weakened virus in eggs.
Anthony Bolton Says Bull Market Is Not Over... Print E-mail
By Reuters staff
Published: 10:05AM BST 21 Oct 2009

Anthony Bolton: the bull market is not over


Fidelity's Anthony Bolton said global stocks were still in a bull market and it was not too late to invest now, with technology and consumer sectors expected to lead the next phase of the bull run.


Bolton, whose contrarian bets made him a top UK fund manager for over two decades, told a news conference on Wednesday that growth stocks would be in the limelight, while commodities and industrial companies were running out of steam after their rally.


"The bargain phase is over. But despite the fact the market is well off lows, we expect the bull market to go on. It's a multiyear bull market," Bolton said in Seoul on a trip to mentor young Fidelity portfolio managers in Asia. Bolton is president for investments at Fidelity International, an affiliate of Boston-based Fidelity Investments, the world's biggest mutual fund firm.


He said the first phase of the bull market was ending this year or by the first quarter of next year, but long-term valuations were still attractive.


Bolton, who does not give much weight to economic forecasts for making stock market assessments, views the global economy as being in a recovery phase and unlikely to fall into a recession, although the pace of the recovery would lose steam next year.


Financials such as banks, property and insurance remain his top picks, based on their pre-provisioning valuations, but regulation would be a key risk to the sector.


"I still think it is right to own financials ... I generally found after financial crisis that you can own financials [for] two to three years," Bolton said, citing "six banking crises" he has seen in his investment career.

 The London-based executive said inflation would not be a threat to stocks in the next couple of years because of low growth in Western markets, and the current environment of low economic growth and low interest rates was positive for stock markets.
Oil Prices Rises to US$79, Gold Prices to US$1,060... Print E-mail

20 Oct 2009 - The risks of rising inflation in the next few years have risen. Oil prices are now near US$80; Gold Prices hit above US$1,060, Silver Prices at US$17.80...


If Oil prices continue to go up, it might derail Global Economic Recovery, in my opinion, the risk of a double-dip recession in Year 2010 or even 2011 has risen.




Dennis Ng,


NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil prices jumped above $79 a barrel to a 2009 high on Monday before falling back as investors looked to U.S. corporate earnings this week for signs consumers may be regaining confidence.

Benchmark crude for November delivery traded up 18 cents at $78.71 on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday. The contract added 95 cents to settle at $78.53 on Friday.

Because oil is bought and sold in dollars, crude essentially becomes cheaper for global investors and there has been a run recently on the Nymex.

Gold Prices Break through US$1,000, might hit US$1,500, says Barclays Bank Print E-mail

Gold prices hit a NEW Historical record high of US$1,048 on 7 Oct 2009, while Silver price was at US$17.67, (Silver price’s record high was US$21 in year 2007).


In Jan 2009, when Gold prices was about US$800 and Silver price was US$12, I wrote in e-newsletter that the in year 2009, with concerns about inflation, Gold prices might hit above US$1,000 again. When I wrote than in Jan 2009, some analysts were of the opinion that gold prices might even drop further to below US$700.


If inflation hits us, what investments would do well? Real Assets would do well, eg. Land investment, Wine Investment, Gold and Silver. This is why I invested about 25% of my money into these 3 investments. Will the economic recovery be V shape, W shape or L shape (stagflation, stagnant economic growth with high inflation rates)?


Any of the 3 scenarios is still possible. Thus, the KEY is “how do we position ourselves so that we’ll be financially OK no matter what happens?  Having some money invested into Real Assets is one way to hedge against any rise in inflation rates.


On 10 Oct 2009, I’m invited to conduct a talk “Streetsmart Strategies to Financing Your Property” at Smart Property Expo.  

Venue: Suntec City Convention Hall, level 4, Hall 401


Time: 1 pm to 1.30 pm (Admission is FREE, please arrive at about 12.30 pm for registration)


Details are here:


Below is the Jan 2009 e-newsletter which I mentioned that Old prices likely to hit above US$1,000


Gold touches fresh high even as dollar rises


NEW YORK, Oct. 7 (AP) — Gold prices extended their rally Wednesday, climbing to fresh highs even as the dollar recouped some of its losses.

Oil prices fell after a government report showing an oversupply of gasoline, while grain prices rose.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December delivery touched a new all-time high of $1,049.70 an ounce, before settling up $4.70 at $1,044.40 an ounce. Gold has risen 5.3 percent in less than two weeks, bringing its year-to-date gain to 18.1 percent.

Investors have been sending gold higher as the dollar declines, fearing a weak greenback will eventually lead to inflation. There is also some doubt about the dollar's role as the world's chief currency. Gold is often used as a hedge against inflation and a falling dollar.

Gold prices surged Tuesday, taking out their previous all-time high of $1,033, as the dollar tumbled following an interest rate hike in Australia. Higher interest rates can make a country's currency more attractive.

Gold continued to rise Wednesday even though the dollar rebounded slightly against the euro and the British pound, a sign to some that the rally in gold may be somewhat inflated, being fed by its own gains more than fundamentals.

"This remains a momentum fund-driven spectacle," wrote Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Metals Inc., in a research note Wednesday. He still expects gold to move higher in the near term.

"There would appear to be little standing in the way of a further push to $1,080 at this juncture," he said.

Other precious metals followed gold higher. December silver jumped 20.5 cents to $17.50 an ounce, while October platinum inched up $2.40 to $1,320.50 an ounce.

December copper futures slipped half a cent to $2.7795 a pound.

Government data showing a surprising decline in weekly crude supplies did little to boost oil prices Wednesday. Instead, traders focused on the part of the report showing a bigger-than-expected increase in gasoline supplies-a sign that Americans' energy consumption is still lagging.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery dropped $1.31 to settle at $69.57 a barrel.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for November delivery lost 5.24 cents to $1.7203 per gallon, and heating oil gave up 3.31 cents to $1.7811 a gallon.

Grain prices rose slightly on the Chicago Board of Trade.

December wheat futures gained 3 cents to $4.6325 a bushel, while corn for December delivery added 1.5 cents to $3.5975 a bushel.

November soybeans rose 2 cents to $9.12 a bushel.

Sugar and cotton prices fell, while orange juice, coffee and cocoa rose.

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