Gold jumped more than 1 percent as metals market plunged on Friday as investors sought safe havens and fled riskier assets on worries over slowing global economic growth.

Investors are concerned that the United States could be facing another recession after data suggested slowing growth from an already sluggish pace in the first half.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe's sovereign debt crisis has defied remedy and threatens to engulf Spain and Italy, two of the euro zone's largest economies.

"The commodity markets are now grappling with an uncertain demand backdrop," said Mark Pervan, senior commodity analyst at Australia and New Zealand Bank.

"It's risk-off at the minute. The markets will be volatile but there's more downside risks than upside risks at the moment."

Benefiting from the gloom, gold rose more than 1 percent to a high of $1,669.60 an ounce, readying to test higher levels after powering to an all-time peak $1,681.67 on Thursday, its 10th record in 17 sessions.

London copper dropped more than 2 percent and Shanghai-traded aluminium and zinc hit their downside limit after Wall Street's worst sell-off since the 2008 global financial crisis sent investors scuttling for safety.

Brent crude oil LCOc1 and U.S. crude futures CLc1 fell to multi-month lows before bucking the downtrend after news of an explosion at an oil pipeline in Iran. Brent traded up $1.15 at $108.37 a barre at 0940 GMT.

Global commodity benchmark the Reuters-Jefferies CRB index is down more than 4 percent for the week, its biggest drop since losing nearly 9 percent in May's across-the-board slide, also fueled by global growth concerns.

"The U.S. economy appears headed for a double-dip recession," said Monty Guild, chief executive officer of Guild Investment Management.

"Even though we expect weak economic activity will lead to more money printing from central banks, the markets are going through a rugged period, which makes us want to reduce our exposure."

European leaders will discuss financial markets on Friday after Thursday's rout signalled fear Europe's debt crisis is spinning out of control and a U.S. recovery is stalling.

All eyes were on the U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due at 1230 GMT, with economists predicting a rise to a modest 85,000 last month after increasing by a paltry 18,000 in June -- the smallest gain since September 2010.


While the current sell-off was reminiscent of the meltdown during the global financial crisis, ANZ's Pervan said declines were unlikely to be as steep as they were then.

"Firstly, prices aren't as high as they were prior to the global financial crisis, the Chinese story is a lot stronger than what it was as a percentage of global consumption and the supply dynamics are much tighter in markets like coal, iron ore and some of the base metals," he said.

U.S. crude hit a lifetime high above $147 a barrel in July 2008 before slumping to nearly $32 in December of that year as the global financial crisis deepened.

On Friday, U.S. crude fell as much as $3.76 to a session low of $82.87 a barrel, its lowest since Nov. 26, before recovering to around $86.15 by 0920 GMT. Brent dropped $2.95 to a day-low of $104.30, its weakest since June 27 before rebounding to $108.20 by 0920 GMT.

London copper dropped 1.66 percent to $9,200 a tonne, after hitting a low of $9,143 a tonne, a level not seen since June 29. Zinc was down more than 3 percent and lead , nickel and tin slid over 2 percent.

In Shanghai, aluminium SAFc3 and zinc SZNc3 slumped by their daily trading limits of 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, while copper SCFc3 dropped 4.3 percent.

Shanghai rubber futures fell as much as 5.8 percent to 33,605 yuan per tonne and in Malaysia, palm oil futures KPOc3 dropped 2.6 percent to a session low of 3,021 ringgit.

In the grains market, Chicago Board of Trade wheat Wc1 fell more than 2 percent to as low as $6.67 per bushel and corn Cc2 dropped 1.6 percent to $6.90-1/2.

Morgan Stanley raised its price forecast for gold to $1,511 from $1,401 for 2011, citing enhanced contagion risk from the European debt crisis and continued uncertainty over U.S. macroeconomic outlook.

It also lifted its 2012 price outlook to $1,624 from $1,330. (Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio and Alejandro Barbajosa in Singapore; editing by Richard Mably)