Gold prices hit their highest levels in 16 years on Thursday.

The Bloomberg financial news service reports that gold rose as high as $434 an ounce at one point.

Gold transactions are customarily denominated in U.S. dollars, and the American currency has declined in value compared to other nations' money. Economists link the decline in the dollar to concerns about the huge U.S. trade deficit.

Analysts say gold prices also rose because investors are seeking the metal as a hedge against inflation growing out of current high oil prices.