NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Gold prices settled just under $1,500 an ounce Wednesday and silver conquered another 31-year high as the U.S. dollar sank. Gold for June delivery added $3.80 to settle at $1,498.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price has traded as high as $1,506.50 and as low as $1,493.80 during Wednesday's session, while the spot gold price was adding $3.40, according to Kitco's gold index. Silver prices jumped 54 cents to close at $44.46 an ounce after breaking the $45 level. Gold has surpassed many analyst expectations for 2011, with Brian Hicks, co-manager of the U.S. Global Investors Global Resources Fund, increasing his price target to $2,000 in 18 months and silver to $100.
"I think it's clear that we are in a bull market," says Hicks. "Gold and silver still have not surpassed their inflation adjusted highs like so many of the other commodities have. Gold and silver are still extremely small markets." As gold and silver catch on as must-have investments, prices will rise, according to Nick Barisheff, CEO of Bullion Management Group."I think we are starting to move into a phase where we are getting institutional involvement." Barisheff points to the fact that the University of Texas Investment Management, one of the largest pension funds, is taking delivery of 6,643 gold bars.
In 2009, "we had central banks starting to buy," says Barisheff, "and once you have institutions ... coming around to the conclusion that they need to add a meaningful percentage" prices will go higher. Barisheff says there is only $6 trillion in above-ground supply of gold, with $3 trillion of it being bullion. Out of the $3 trillion, half is in central bank vaults and the other half is in private hands. Financial assets are worth $200 trillion, not counting derivatives and real estate, so any movement out of the $200 trillion and into the $1.5 trillion would be huge. "The only thing that can adjust is the price."