Gold soared to its highest level in almost six years yesterday and oil hovered near three-month peaks as Washington deepened war fears by preparing to declare Iraq in violation of a UN disarmament resolution. \nStocks and the dollar struggled and US Treasuries held recent gains after US officials said Secretary of State Colin Powell would issue Washington's response on Thursday to Iraq's 12,000-page arms disclosure. \nThe US officials said the Iraqi report had failed to disclose suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs as required, though they stressed that would not be an immediate trigger for war. \nBut fears a conflict was nearer sent gold above US$350 an ounce for the first time in almost six years as speculators and investors continued to build a "war premium" into the price of bullion \nThe precious metal, a traditional sanctuary from financial market turbulence, rose as high as US$353.75 an ounce, its highest since March 13, 1997. \nProfit-taking pulled it back to near the US$350 mark, well up from New York's close of around US$342 and taking its gain this year to some 25 percent. \n"The war factor is driving up gold, there's no doubt," said Commonwealth Bank of Australia commodities strategist David Thurtell. \nOil was also on the march as the risk of military action against Iraq underlined threats to world oil supplies. Crude oil futures were up US$0.38 from the New York close at US$30.82 a barrel yesterday, after surging to US$31.25 on Wednesday, a three-month peak and just shy of a 22-month high. \n"All this talk of war has spooked a lot of people, especially with the White House expected to say Iraq's arms dossier contains omissions," said a New York oil broker who requested anonymity. \nThe Iraqi standoff compounded worries over a general strike in Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, which has helped drive the price of crude up more than 20 percent in the last month. \nThe war fears at one point sent Tokyo's Nikkei stock average below a 19-year closing low hit last month, but the market closed higher on gains in bank stocks. \nThe Nikkei closed up 0.5 percent at 8,387.57 after falling as low as 8,256.52. \nSome Asian airline stocks dropped on the rise in oil prices, with All Nippon Airways Co Ltd falling 3.4 percent to a multi-decade low in Tokyo. China Southern Airlines and Thai Airways also fell elsewhere in Asia. \nOutside Japan, Asian stock markets were little changed in light end-of-year trade, supported by gains in banks, gold and oil stocks. \nBenchmarks closed up 0.7 percent in South Korea, 0.3 percent in Taiwan and 0.1 percent in Australia By midday, Hong Kong was down 0.7 percent and Singapore was flat. \n"Investor sentiment is still rather weak and there is a tendency to remain bearish due to geopolitical concerns, rising oil prices and a weak US dollar," said Louis Wong, director at Phillips Securities in Hong Kong.
* US officials said the Iraqi report had failed to disclose suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
* Fears a conflict sent gold above US$350 an ounce for the first time in six years.
* Crude oil futures closed at US$30.82 a barrel yesterday.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang