Prices quoted for buying gold fell together with the US dollar on Thursday morning in London, dropping away from $1,660 per ounce and falling harder in other currencies as commodities also edged lower.
Silver prices slipped back to $31.50 per ounce, some 1.1% lower for the week so far.
The euro rose almost 1¢ to a 1-week high of $1.3170, pushing the price for euro-zone investors buying gold down 1.2% from Tuesday's late one-month high of €1271 per ounce (€40,868 per kilo).
"Gold is struggling, weighed down by...faltering investor interest," says today's note from South Africa's Standard Bank.
"Physical demand on the other hand has been supportive, with particularly strong buying coming out of the Far East on price dips."
A late rally in Asian shares – attributed by the newswires to rumors that Hong Kong banks will be allowed to lend directly to Chinese manufacturers in the Shenzen Special Economic Zone – failed to carry over into European trade.
London-listed oil majors fell hard after reports of a leak near Shell platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Italy meantime sold nearly €5 billion in new government debt, but investors demanded more than 5.0% annual interest on Rome's new 10-year bonds, plus 3.9% on 3-year debt – a full percent point higher from the previous auction in mid-March.
Two days after the International Monetary Fund said it was cutting its long-term forecast for China's trade surplus – "the analytical underpinning for the case that the renminbi is substantially undervalued" according to former IMF official Eswar Prasad – the World Bank today trimmed its forecast for China's GDP growth in 2012.
Down from 8.4% to 8.2%, that would be the slowest pace in 13 years. China's trade surplus almost halved in 2011 to 2.7%.
China's private gold buying in 2011 accounted for more than 0.6% of GDP on Bullion Vault's analysis, with imports accounting for over half of that.
"Gold [in 2011] was clearly dependent on emerging markets' economic strength, as China's jewelry demand grew to a record level while India's fell by less than 3%," said GFMS executive chairman Philip Klapwijk on Wednesday, launching the consultancy's new Gold Survey 2012.
Rising incomes in both China and India mean "We see significant potential for new entrants" to the gold market, said Klapwijk, with banks expanding access to physical product in-branch, and private-sector operators also expanding "distribution to retail investors."
The Singapore Mercantile Exchange today said it will launch new silver and gold futures contracts in May, "providing an alternate [Asian] market because China and India are closed" to cross-border flows according to SMX chief executive Vaidyalingam Hariharan, speaking to Reuters.
Data out Thursday morning put new Chinese bank lending sharply above analyst forecasts in March at CNY 1.01 billion ($160bn).
Growth in private-sector bank account holdings also accelerated, growing by 13.4% from a year earlier, suggesting that "Chinese monetary easing looks to have already taken place," says Standard Bank's commodity note.