Investors liquidated gold holdings to cover losses on other markets, analysts said, as a rise in risk aversion sparked selling across assets seen as higher risk, while lifting the U.S. currency and safe-haven German Bunds.
Spot gold slid to $1,573.29 an ounce, its weakest since January 3, after support gave way at $1,579, and was down 0.7 percent at $1,582.19 an ounce at 1145 GMT.
Prices pared the worst of their losses as hopes that a Greek government may be formed soon lifted the euro from lows, but spot prices were still down nearly 4 percent so far this week, their worst weekly performance this year.
May is turning into a trouble month for investors in most asset classes once again. Gold, offering high liquidity, is being hurt by the need to realize cash and move to the sidelines, Saxo Bank vice president Ole Hansen said.
We saw another sweep lower this morning assisted by another upside attempt on the dollar, he said. Nonetheless, he added, the downward move could soon run out of steam.
We are moving into an area of support with many talking about 1,550 as the line in the sand. The dollar should by now have been a lot stronger considering the strong buy signal given this week in the EUR/USD. This has so far not materialized.
European shares fell on Friday as uncertainty over Greece's political outlook, a huge loss from JPMorgan (JPM.N) and mounting concerns over Spain's banking sector led to a sharp deterioration in market confidence. .EU
German Bund futures pushed higher, while peripheral euro zone government bonds were set to remain under pressure as Greece made a last-gasp attempt to cobble together a government. The euro hit a 3-1/2 month low against the dollar
Although last year gold tended to benefit from worries over the health of the euro zone, it has reverted to trading more in line with assets seen as higher risk as the dollar has taken over as the haven of choice.
Safe-haven gold buyers remain largely absent while bullion continues to trade in the same direction as riskier assets, VTB Capital said in a note. Risk appetite for gold is simply not there, with players preferring the greenback at the moment.
U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $13.50 an ounce at $1,582.00.
INDIAN GOLD DEMAND SOFT
Buying of physical gold has been lackluster in recent weeks in major consumer India, where appetite has been dampened by rupee weakness, further eroding confidence in the metal.
Some buying was seen in the United States, where sales of American Eagle gold coins hit 31,500 ounces so far this month, already 50 percent more than was sold in the whole of April.
On the demand side of the market, the world's biggest gold miner, China, produced 29.8 metric tons (32.849 tons) of gold in March, bringing total gold output in the first quarter to 80.8 metric tons, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Friday.
Silver was down 1.2 percent at $28.62 an ounce, tracking losses in gold.
The gold/silver ratio, which measures the number of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold, broke through 55 on Friday for the first time since mid-January as the white metal underperformed.
The world's biggest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, the iShares Silver Trust, has seen outflows of just over 87 metric tons of metal so far this month.
Spot platinum was down 1.4 percent at $1,460.49 an ounce, while spot palladium was down 1.6 percent at $600.47 an ounce, having earlier touched its lowest since mid-December at $596.33.
Platinum Week, at which traders, miners, refiners, recyclers and buyers will meet, takes place in London next week. Recent price declines in both metals are likely to be discussed.
After some sizeable price declines, we can't help thinking that both platinum and palladium look like good value here, UBS said in a note on Friday. From the year's high of $1,737, platinum has already given back $245, while palladium has shed 15 percent from its high of $726.
While some residual liquidation is possible if markets suffer another extreme risk-averse event, we tend to think that the bulk of the price declines are in the past and that PGMs have entered a value zone.