Forexpros – Gold futures extended a nine-day rally to hit a fresh all-time high on Thursday, as the safe haven appeal of the precious metal was boosted amid mounting concerns over debt levels in the U.S. and the euro zone.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for August delivery traded at USD1,593.65 a troy ounce during European morning trade, jumping 0.77%.                

It earlier rose as much as 0.85% to trade at a record high USD1,594.35 a troy ounce, eclipsing the previous day’s all-time high of USD1,587.75 a troy ounce.

Late Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service said that it placed the U.S. government’s Aaa bond rating on review for possible downgrade for the first time since 1995.

The agency said that the review was prompted by the possibility that the debt limit will not be raised in time to prevent a missed payment of interest or principal on outstanding bonds and notes, raising a small but rising risk of a short-lived default.

The rating would likely be reduced to the Aa range and there is no assurance Moody’s would return its top rating even if a default is quickly cured.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank was examining several untested means to stimulate growth if conditions deteriorate, including another round of asset purchases or quantitative easing.

Testifying before lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday, Bernanke said policymakers expect the U.S. economic recovery “will likely remain moderate” with the unemployment rate falling “only gradually.”

When the Fed announced the second round of quantitative easing, known as the QE2, in November last year, gold prices rose to record highs for four consecutive sessions.

Meanwhile, lingering concerns over sovereign debt contagion in the euro zone continued to underpin safe-haven demand for the precious metal.

Greece’s credit rating was cut three levels by ratings agency Fitch to its lowest grade for any country in the world, saying that a default was a “real possibility.”

Elsewhere, silver for September delivery surged 2.6% to trade at a nine-week high of USD39.09 a troy ounce, as investors sought a cheaper alternative to gold.