Gold prices hovered in a miniscule $35 range Friday as investors fleeing sinking U.S. and European stocks divided their options between the greenback and the yellow metal.

The U.S. Commerce Department said spending rose 0.2 percent after increasing 0.7 percent in July. When adjusted for inflation, however, spending was unchanged after rising 0.4 percent in July. Since spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economic activity, the flat number enforced the sense that the U.S. economy is in trouble.

Meanwhile, income last month retreated 0.1 percent, its first decline since October 2009 and worse than analysts had forecast.

What you're basically getting is a scene where consumers are losing momentum, they're losing momentum on income and as a result of that they're slowing down on spending, Steven Ricchiuto, U.S. chief economist at Mizuho Securities in New York, told Reuters.

Eurozone inflation jumped to a 3 percent pace in September, worse than economists had predicted.

Chinese authorities said manufacturing shrank for a third consecutive month in September, while factory inflation quickened.

The upshot was of the gloomy global picture.

(A recession) has either just begun, or it's right in front of us, Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of Economic Cycle Research Institute told CNN. But at this point that's a detail. The critical news is there's no turning back. We are going to have a new recession.

Stocks fell on both sides of the Atlantic, the dollar strengthened and gold gained a few dollars.

Gold on the Comex added $5 to $1,622.30, while gold for immediate delivery was up $1.45 to $1,618.59.

Silver on the Comex fell 44 cents to $30.08, while silver for immediate delivery was off 66 cents to $29.86.