April 15, 2013 / 12:37 AM / in 4 years

Gold set for worst two-day rout in 30 years, stocks drop

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gold slumped anew on Monday, racking up its worst two-day loss in 30 years, and investors dumped stocks and other commodities after weaker-than-expected Chinese data raised concerns about the global economic outlook.

Gold dragged other metals lower as its price plunged to a more than two-year low. Brent crude fell towards $100 a barrel, while on Wall Street stocks were down more than 1 percent.

Spot gold dropped as much as 8 percent on Monday alone, falling as low as $1,355.80 an ounce. In the last two sessions gold has fallen over 12 percent, making for the worst two days since late February 1983.

Gold was recently at $1,365.66, down 7.7 percent. Strategists have cited various reasons for gold’s decline, including plans from Cyprus to sell excess gold reserves and feared selling from other central banks. The already sharp correction has caused short-term investors to flee the asset.

“The pressure from the proposed sale of Cyprus gold is one of the factors, and once one of them start, they all run from the hen house,” said Robert Richardson, senior account executive and trading officer at Canadian broker-dealer W.D. Latimer Co. Ltd.

China’s recovery unexpectedly stumbled in the first three months of 2013, as it reported its annual growth rate eased to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in the final quarter of last year. Economists had forecast 8 percent growth.

Industrial output in China in March also undershot expectations and added to investor sensitivity after recent disappointing economic data out of the United States.

A U.S. regional manufacturing report on Monday showed the pace of growth slowed, the latest data to suggest the world’s biggest economy lost some steam heading into the second quarter.

“The growth numbers out of China are absolutely crucial for commodities and the numbers that came out are significantly worse than people were expecting,” said Nic Brown, head of commodities research at Natixis in London.

“China makes up 40 percent of demand for base metals and all the growth in demand for oil is coming from the developing world, so to see weakness in China is bad for commodities generally.”

Last week Cyprus revealed it would sell around 400 million euros worth of gold to help shore up its ailing finances and the move has sparked suggestions that larger countries in the region could use the move to cash in on some huge jumps gold has seen over the last decade.

Traders also cited concern that the Federal Reserve might reduce U.S. monetary stimulus towards the end of the year.

“We are entering a phase of additional long liquidation by ETF investors and short-selling from hedge funds, which will continue in the foreseeable future,” Saxo Bank senior manager Ole Hansen said.

Brent crude futures dropped more than $2 to $100.30 a barrel as the disappointment stirred already-festering global recovery concerns. U.S. crude also lost more than $2 to $88.72.

Copper fell to its lowest price in 1-1/2 years. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell to $7,085 a tonne in intraday trade, its lowest since October 2011.

Silver was down 9.6 percent at $23.38 an ounce, having fallen to its lowest since October 2010 at $22.97.

U.S. stocks also fell, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its first two-day losing streak in a month.

“None of the economic data has been very good for the last couple of weeks. When you look at the whole scope of data, it looks like we have been going into a slowdown here,” said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

“I wouldn’t say this is over yet, but there are enough indicators out there to really indicate that investors should approach this market with a degree of caution which doesn’t seem to exist right now.”

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 183.09 points, or 1.23 percent, to 14,681.97. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX dropped 25.54 points, or 1.61 percent, to 1,563.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC dropped 59.65 points, or 1.81 percent, to 3,235.30.

The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 ended down 0.6 percent and MSCI’s world share index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks stocks in 45 countries, lost 1.4 percent.

The yen rose as traders sold riskier investments funded by the cheap Japanese currency. The dollar accelerated losses in mid-afternoon trading, falling 1.16 percent to 97.08 yen, while the euro dropped to a fresh session low, down 1.7 percent at 126.78 yen.

Additional reporting by Clara Denina in London and Chuck Mikolajczak and Manuela Badawy in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish

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