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Written by: Staff

SINGAPORE, Apr 11 (Reuters) Gold spiked to $600.40 an ounce on Tuesday, its highest since December 1980, as funds bought on worries about inflation, tension in the Middle East and uncertainties over the dollar's outlook.

''We're there mate, we've done it,'' said Darren Heathcote, head of trading at N M Rothschild in Sydney.

Spot gold was later quoted at $598.50/599.50 an ounce by 0043 GMT, little changed from $598.80/599.60 an ounce late in New York on Monday.

''The signals are still strong, people are still happy to buy in dips. Whilst we're below $600, the range is probably somewhere around $597.50 and $600. But if we break above $600, we're probably looking to test that $604.50 area,'' Heathcote said.

Investors have turned to surging commodities markets for investment alternatives to equities, bonds and foreign exchange, where returns have not been as good, said dealers.

Tensions in the Middle East, uncertainty about the dollar's outlook, worries about rising energy costs and speculation that central banks will diversify into metals have also boosted gold's appeal, they said.

Silver tracked gold's gains and rose to another 23-year high of $12.90 an ounce before retreating to $12.79/12.83 an ounce, higher than $12.68/12.71 late in New York.

Platinum was steady at $1,087/1,092 an ounce. Sister metal palladium rose to $357/362 an ounce from $354/360 late in New York.


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