Spot gold prices again drifted lower in London after rising in Asia Friday morning, heading for the biggest monthly drop against the dollar since the Lehmans' crash of October 2008 but finishing the third quarter of 2011 more than 13% higher.
US equities have lost 12.5% since end-June, as have crude oil prices. Copper has fallen over 25% and the silver price has lost 13.1%.
New data this morning meantime showed sharper-than-expected falls in French consumer spending and German retail sales.
US consumer confidence and manufacturing reports were due later on Friday.
"The [spot gold and silver] market suddenly seems quiet in this time zone," said a Hong Kong dealer in a note this morning, noting "much lower" trading volume ahead of China's "Golden Week" holidays, which start on Saturday.
The China Daily cites one research forecast of 2.2 million people taking a foreign holiday next week, set to spend some $2.1 billion overseas.
"We don't think the October National Day holidays in China will push down gold prices much," a Hong Kong investor is quoted by the Platts news & data agency, "because we see strong investor demand in other areas of the world."
Friday lunchtime in London saw spot gold prices in the wholesale market slip back below $1,620 per ounce - a new all-time high when first reached in late July, but almost 16% below the new record high of Sept. 6.
The US dollar rose again versus both the euro and sterling today, while major government debt prices also pushed higher, nudging 30-year US interest rates back down below 3.00%.
Global stock markets meantime ended their worst three-month fall since late 2008 by falling more than 1% in Asia and losing over 2% in Europe.
"We now expect the euro area to slide into recession in the fourth quarter of this year," writes JPMorgan economist David Mackie in a new report.
"The rout over the last couple of months in European equities may have been a lot worse than the US," says Albert Edwards at Soci'et'e G'en'erale, "but it has merely taken us back to the forward [price/earnings ratio] seen at the market's nadir in March 2009.
"Add in the recessionary impact on profits which have already begun to decline and European equity prices might fall a lot further yet."
"[It's] time to think the unthinkable and start printing again," says the Financial Times' economics columnist Martin Wolf.
"The alternative is likely to be a lost decade. The waste is more than unnecessary; it is cruel."
Following yesterday's approval by the Berlin parliament of a 70% rise in Germany's cash guarantees to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), "Eurozone finance ministers are expected to come up with new plans to ease the debt crisis, and the [European Central Bank] may lend a hand when it meets next Thursday" by cutting interest rates, says Steve Barrow at Standard Bank.
"We'd envisage the possibility of a sharp rally but...the effect [will] fizzle out pretty quickly."
Looking back to this month's US monetary policy change, "The Fed's Operation Twist was largely priced into the fixed income market through a sharp fall in long-term yields between end-July and mid-September," says the latest spot gold analysis from Nic Brown and the team at French investment bank and bullion dealers Natixis.
"During [that] time, gold prices rallied by more than $240 per ounce. Hence there was little further benefit to be derived from this support," leaving gold to fall sharply after Fed chairman Bernanke confirmed his plan to sell $400 billion of short-term US government debt in exchange for longer-dated Treasury bonds.
However, "with the very real prospect of a messy Greek default over the coming weeks or months, we are hesitant to suggest that the gold price rally is finished just yet," Natixis concludes.
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Adrian Ash runs the research desk at BullionVault. Formerly head of editorial at Fleet Street Publications - London's top publisher of financial advice for private investors - he was City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning from 2003 to 2008, and is now a regular contributor to a number of investment websites.