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Gold Posts Longest Slump Since 2009, Silver Drops on Europe Woes

A Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. employee holds a box of gold earrings in one of the company's stores in Hong Kong on Nov. 24, 2011. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Gold fell, capping the longest slump since October 2009, and silver tumbled to a three-month low as Europe’s deepening debt crisis drove commodities and stocks lower.

The euro dropped to an 11-month low against the dollar as lending to financial institutions sent the European Central Bank’s balance sheet to a record high. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 raw materials and the MSCI World Index of equities were poised for the biggest declines in two weeks. Platinum approached the lowest since November 2009, and palladium dropped almost 3 percent.

The ECB said lending to euro-area banks jumped 214 billion euros ($276.9 billion) to 879 billion in the week ended Dec. 23, bolstering credit to the economy during the fiscal turmoil. Gold has slumped 19 percent from a record $1,923.70 an ounce on Sept. 6, partly on sales to cover losses in other markets. About $10 trillion has been erased from global equities since May.

“What’s going on in Europe is very worrying,” James Dailey, who manages $215 million at TEAM Financial Management LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said in an e-mail. “The dollar’s strength is working against all commodities, including gold.”

Gold futures for February delivery declined 2 percent to settle at $1,564.10 at 1:47 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price dropped for the fifth straight session, the longest slide since October 2009. The commodity headed for the first quarterly slump since September 2008.

Silver futures for March delivery fell 5.2 percent to $27.234 an ounce on the Comex. Earlier, the price touched $27.10, the lowest since Sept. 26. The metal has plummeted 45 percent from a 31-year high of $49.845 on April 25.

India, China

Gold imports by India, the biggest consumer, may drop as much as 50 percent this month after the rupee plunged, according to the Bombay Bullion Association. China restricted gold trading in spot and futures contracts to the Shanghai Gold Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange to crack down on illegal buying and selling of commodities.

“Concerns were raised over the sustainability of demand out of China and India,” Marc Ground, an analyst at Standard Bank Plc, said in a report.

Platinum futures for April delivery declined 3.2 percent to $1,392.40 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price touched $1,388.60. On Dec. 15, the metal declined to $1,376, the lowest since Nov. 13, 2009.

‘No Surprise’

Palladium futures for March delivery slumped 2.9 percent to $647.15 an ounce on Nymex, the biggest drop since Dec. 14.

This year, gold has advanced 10 percent, heading for the 11th straight annual gain, on demand for an alternative investment amid slumping equities.

“Gold has been one of the best performers this year, so it comes as no surprise that we are seeing some end-of-year profit-taking,” said Ronald Stoeferle, a commodity analyst at Erste Group Bank AG in Vienna.

Before today, the MSCI equity index dropped 7.5 percent this year.

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