Gold prices tumbled by 2 percent on Friday, reversing earlier gains, with traders blaming heavy fund liquidation of the metal on the New York futures market, and the downward move picking up momentum as sell stops were triggered.
Gold found little support as it slid below $1,830 an ounce as concerns grew its run-up to record highs may have been overdone. Talk of further central banks sales after Libya said on Thursday it had sold 29 tonnes of gold and the prospect of more margin hikes on Comex futures also unsettled traders.
The metal has had a volatile week, trading in a near-$130 range after a swift correction followed Tuesday's record $1,920.30 an ounce.
Spot gold was down 1.8 percent at $1,834.53 an ounce at 1130 GMT, having earlier risen as high as $1,885.50.
People are probably very exposed to gold now, because they've been so bullish, yet the technicals aren't that great now that you've had that double-top pattern coming through, said Macquarie analyst Hayden Atkins.
There is no real direction provided by other markets, he added. I guess this is a sign that people are interested in taking profits at these kinds of prices, in the absence of direction from anywhere else.
Trade is expected to remain volatile ahead of a G7 finance ministers' meeting this weekend at which officials will come under heavy pressure to take action to revive economic growth.
France has called for a coordinated response from the Group of Seven nations after anxiety over Europe's debt crisis led world stock markets to drop in recent weeks, though differences between the economic problems facing the United States, Britain and euro zone states are complicating the task.
Concerns over euro zone debt and speculation that more U.S. monetary easing could be on the cards kept gold firmly underpinned during this week's correction, but this left it vulnerable to profit taking as prices rose towards $1,900.
Other markets provided little direction to gold. European shares fell as traders were underwhelmed by a $447 billion jobs package unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, while the dollar firmed a touch.
U.S. gold futures GCv1 for August delivery were down $19.90 an ounce at $1,837.80.