Gold prices surged past $1,800 an ounce on Thursday as investors bought up the safe haven as markets around the world slump due to ongoing fears about the global economy. In early trade the price of the precious metal soared to a record $1,814.50-$1,815.50 an ounce. The record came as equities markets in Asia slumped in early trade, with Tokyo losing almost two percent, Seoul off four percent and Sydney 1.5 percent lower. Traders have been rattled by talk of a possible credit downgrade for France, which hit already shaky sentiment after the United States' rating was cut for the first time last week. Rumours of a downgrade in eurozone giant France -- due to problems at a number of French banks -- reignited concerns that the European debt crisis has spread from the peripheral states.