Gold's explosive start to 2016 has lifted prices to the highest level in a year as investors flee from a bear market in global stocks, a weakening dollar and the fallout from the spread of negative interest rates.

Futures in the metal posted the biggest weekly jump in seven years even as prices fell on Friday, while a measure of gold mining shares was poised for the highest close since July.

Producer Barrick Gold Corp. has surged 65 percent this year, after five straight annual losses, while Newmont Mining Corp. is up 44 percent and is the top performer on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of equities.

Investors have bolted back to gold after the metal suffered three straight years of losses as a souring global economy, led by concerns over Chinese growth, pummels stock prices. The turbulence has eroded expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year, hurting the dollar and adding to gold's allure.

"Gold's been like a hurricane drawing strength from different sources as it swept higher," said Andy Pfaff, chief investment officer for commodities at MitonOptimal Group. "It's all been very favorable for gold."

Gold's ascent has been so rapid that analysts may be forced to reassess their targets.

"The black-swan-esque panic that engulfed the markets this week has driven gold up faster than even the most bullish could have hoped for," said Adam Finn, head of precious metals at Triland Metals in London. "A retracement downwards from here is highly likely, and the subsequent strength of the dip buying should tell us much more about how willing the inflows are of staying in the trade."

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