NEW YORK Gold slumped for a second day on Friday to conclude its worst week in eight, crashing through key technical supports, as investors shed riskier assets and bought the dollar on heightened concerns over Greek debt.
With less than a week until the end of the Federal Reserve's second quantitative easing program, bullion's three percent fall over the past two days has raised questions about whether its years-long boom has stalled. After reaching a high of $1,575.79 on May 2, gold has struggled.
Spot prices ended the week below their 50-day moving average for the first time since February, they ruptured a trendline support stemming back to a January low, and they broke out of a six-week sideways pattern to the downside.
All of those technical chart patterns were seen as warning signs by many investors.
"Once the 50-day average is broken on a weekly basis, it a first sign of weakness and that the trend may be changing," said Adam Sarhan at Sarhan Capital.
Spot gold was down 1.3 percent at $1,501.40 an ounce by 3:02 p.m. EDT (1902 GMT), having earlier fallen to a month low at $1,498.16. It was down about 2.5 percent for the week.
U.S. August gold futures settled down $19.60, a 1.30 percent drop, at $1,500.90. It set a $1,498.50 and $1,526.50 range. Volume above 170,000 lots was about 20 percent below its 30-day average, but up from weak volume in recent sessions.
The dollar gained almost 1 percent for the week versus the euro on worries that Greece's parliament will not approve a package of austerity measures next week. The U.S. currency also strengthened after the Federal Reserve, earlier this week, offered no hope for additional monetary support.
"Gold's decline has to do with the strength of the dollar, and since the equity market is resuming its decline, that's what's working counter to gold prices at the moment," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at broker-dealer Janney Montgomery Scott, which manages $54 billion in assets.
Silver was down 2 percent at $34.55 an ounce, lifting the gold/silver ratio -- the number of ounces of silver needed to buy one ounce of gold -- to near a one-month high at 43.5. The ratio's increase highlights gold's outperformance relative to silver.
Rick Bensignor, chief market strategist at Dahlman Rose, said, gold's pullback could have more room to the downside, with next major support in area of May's lows between $1,488 and $1,471 a tonne.
"The dollar could rally up to its 200-day moving average, and that will not help gold advance right now," he said.
Worries about Greece defaulting on its massive debt, a development that would roil markets if the country's parliament does not approve austerity measures and concerns over some Italian banks dragged global stock markets sharply lower for a second day. <USD/> .N
"You have prices of crude oil, commodities and the stock market again under pressure. And, you have a strong dollar. To think that gold is going to rally, it's just not going to happen," said independent investor Dennis Gartman.
"Every market that has the term 'risk' associated with it, everybody wants out," he said.
With the second round of Fed quantitative easing (QE2) ending in June, some investors question whether risk assets could rise further. Gold has thrived on the expectation of an extended period of low U.S. interest rates, and that placed non-yielding bullion in a better position to compete for investor cash against stocks or bonds.
Among platinum group metals, platinum was last down 0.8 percent at $1,680.24 an ounce, while palladium was down 1.8 percent at $729.25.
Prices at 3:02 p.m. EDT (1902 GMT)
LAST/ NET PCT YTD
CLOSE CHG CHG CHG US gold 1500.90 -19.60 -1.3% 5.6% US silver 34.638 -0.364 1.0% 12.0% US platinum 1677.60 -16.90 -1.0% -5.7% US palladium 730.20 -11.35 -1.5% -9.1%
Gold 1501.40 -19.30 -1.3% 5.8% Silver 34.55 -0.70 -2.0% 12.0% Platinum 1680.24 -14.26 -0.8% -4.9% Palladium 729.25 -13.10 -1.8% -8.8%
Gold Fix 1514.75 -6.25 -0.4% 7.4% Silver Fix 34.73 -128.00 -3.6% 13.4% Platinum Fix 1696.00 10.00 0.6% -2.0% Palladium Fix 739.00 5.00 0.7% -6.6%
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper and Silvia Antonioli in London, Manolo Serapio Jr in Singapore; Editing by Carole Vaporean)