Gold futures finished with a modest loss on Monday, extending their decline from last week, as investors sold precious metals to cover losses in equity markets. Silver also fell.

Gold for April delivery fell $2.40 to end at $971.80 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price earlier touched $961.90.

Last week, gold climbed to a record $995.20 an ounce, and silver reached $21.325 an ounce, the highest since 1980.

Gold prices remained rather subdued after last week's roller-coaster pattern and as little fresh data emerged on the news front, said Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Bullion Dealers, in a note.

Despite rising expectations that the Fed might need to cut by as much as 75 basis points, there are trading houses which see a gold market that is dominated by longs and as yet unable to penetrate the $1,000 mark and are therefore not ruling out further profit-taking and/or testing of lower levels, Nadler said.

Silver futures for May delivery fell 46.5 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.785 an ounce. The price earlier lost as much as 97 cents to $19.28.

Before today, silver climbed 36 percent this year, while gold gained 16 percent.

Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators lowered their net-long position in gold futures in the week ending March 4, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on March 7.

Speculative long positions, or bets prices will rise, declined 6.5 percent from a week earlier.

In energy trading,c rude-oil futures surged as much as 3.1 percent to a record $108.21 a barrel.