Time for gold to glisten again as a safe haven?

As global equity markets tumble, analysts say it could be time for gold to shine once more as a safe buy in times of market turmoil.

Spot gold prices rose for a fifth successive day on Thursday, with bullion up about 4 per cent since the start of the year. Prices topped US$1,100 (S$1576,53) an ounce for the first time in nine weeks as the dollar fell after concerns over the Chinese economy hit global stocks.

"With equity markets tumbling, escalating tensions between a Saudi-led Sunni bloc against Iran, ongoing hostilities in Syria, North Korea testing what it claims to be a hydrogen bomb, the once precious yellow metal is looking perky," BBH strategists led by Marc Chandler said in a note on Thursday.

Gold's strong performance amid broad risk-off sentiment could pique renewed investor interest, according to Joni Teves, a strategist at UBS.

"Gold is holding above the 50-day moving average in spite of a stronger dollar, helped by lower US yields and physical demand," she noted in a report on Thursday.

Gold's gains on Thursday came after Chinese stock indexes fell by around 7 per cent on the day, triggering a circuit breaker for the second time this week that shut Shanghai and Shenzhen markets for the rest of the session. Asian and European stocks slumped on the news and Wall Street stocks are seen opening sharply lower.

During times of financial uncertainty and geopolitical turmoil, investors channel money into assets that benefit from risk-averse sentiment or act as a store of value. Whether gold can be considered a safe haven may be up for debate, however, gold prices have recently risen despite China's slowdown and escalated tensions in the Korean peninsula.

RBC Capital Markets forecasts gold will trade broadly between US$1,050 and US$1,200 this year, with an average price of US$1,150 per ounce.

"As seen in 2004, we expect gold to lead a commodity recovery," Stephen Walker, head of global mining research at the group, said in a report on Thursday.

- CNBC's Krysia Lenzo contributed to this report.