Gold ranged between $637 and $641 per ounce in Europe on Monday, beginning the US session at a 6-week low after dropping sharply overnight in Asia.
European stock markets also continued to sell off, putting the FTSE down 1.5% within one hour of the opening. S&P futures pointed to further sharp declines in US stocks, too.
Tokyo stocks have already closed down after suffering their greatest one-day loss in 9 months. The Hong Kong market lost 4% in its worst day since 2003.
Action on the foreign exchanges is equally frantic. It helped to put the Sterling price of gold nearly 1% higher as the Pound sank to a 7-month low against the Euro and lost 2% against the Japanese Yen.
Sterling today fell below $1.9250 versus the Dollar for the first time since Nov.
For Eurozone buyers, gold began the week at €486.60, the lowest level since mid-Jan. Japanese gold prices are also back at a 7-week low, trading beneath ¥74,000 per ounce.
Thanks to the soaring Yen, gold has dropped more than 11% for Japanese buyers since Monday last week.
"Many Japanese investors bought gold on Tocom last week at ¥2,610 level," said one Tokyo trader today.
"Now they're stampeding to exit those positions."
At the Tocom in Tokyo gold fell today by its maximum daily limit, dropping to ¥2,432 per gram. Reuters attributes the fall to stop-loss selling triggered by a rise in the Yen against the Dollar.
Indeed, everyone blames the rising Japanese Yen for the current chaos in the global investment markets.
"The overriding concern is the Yen currency and whether it will trigger further unwinding of carry trades," said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer at KGI Asia, to Reuters earlier.
The Japanese currency has now risen 5% against the US Dollar in one week. Having been borrowed at cheap interest rates by speculators looking to pick up easy returns elsewhere, the sudden jump in the Yen looks to be sucking money out of investment markets the world over.
Decisions due this week from 5 major central banks may also add to the confusion. The New Zealand Dollar – buoyed by a wall of money from Japanese investors looking to pick up easy gains on the "carry" – may bounce as the Reserve Bank is expected to hike its rates to 7.5%.
The Canadian and Australian central banks are due to stick at 4.25% and 6.25% respectively. The Bank of England is likely to hold Sterling rates at 5.25% on Thursday.
But the European Central Bank is expected to hike Eurozone rates to 3.75%.
According to a Bloomberg survey, the BoE will lift rates once again this year, while the ECB will probably lift twice. The yield on Sterling interest-rate futures for June settlement has fallen 16 basis points to 5.67% over the last two weeks.
Gold, meantime, has now lost value against all major currencies during the current turmoil. It's beaten the Asian and European stock markets, however.
Looking ahead, "the key for gold will be to weather the clean out & hold above the $635-$640 area," says Brandon Lloyd for Mitsui in Sydney.
"The weaker US Dollar, firm crude & strong gold fundamentals has the capacity to provide enough support for this to occur."
Tom Tragett of Forex Profit Alert puts gold support at $635. That's where the downtrend starting last July – and broken in January – now sits. Below that comes support at $630.50 thanks to the uptrend begun in October, and then the 200-day moving average now at $622.93.
"It's significant that the downtrend broken in Jan. is still holding as support today," says Tragett, "despite the obvious selling pressure."
On the fundamental side, reports the Hindu Business Line today, "fabrication demand appears to be consolidating after last year's sharp decline. Barring sharp price spikes and volatility, the demand side seems to be looking healthy with Asia again attracting attention."
For investors, gold's longer-term attractions may also come to the fore as the current chaos wears on. But any thoughts of the metal offering a "safe haven" should be well and truly wiped out.