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A report by the World Gold Council says investors “ran for cover’ after the collapse of Enron. The stock markets have also been shaken by the ‘rogue trader’ scandal at AIB, and is still suffering the after-effects of September 11.

However, a buoyant US economy is encouraging private and corporate investors back into the market, but this time they are keen to get some gilt for their gelt.

Gold dealer Michael Bloomstein, who says he has long followed the maxim “if you can’t see it and touch it, don’t buy it”, told the Antiques Trade Gazette: “People are still a bit wary of investing in the markets, but with gold you know what you’re getting – you can buy a bar and stick it under your bed, if you like.

“As a result, the price of gold is rising in America, and the strong dollar is forcing up the price of gold in other countries.”