Gold prices fall to lowest level in a month

The price of gold fell to the lowest level in about a month Monday after new Chinese data renewed questions about whether the country's leaders will take more action to revive economic growth.

Gold for December delivery dropped $22.10 to finish at $1,737.60 per ounce. That's the lowest price since Sept. 12, the day before the Federal Reserve announced new measures to aid the U.S. economy.

China, the world's second largest economy, said its inflation rate fell to 1.9 percent in September from 2 percent in August. Imports grew by 2.4 percent, which was slightly better than the previous month but still weak.

China's economic growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 percent for the quarter ending in June. Forecasters are expecting growth to slow even more in the most recent quarter. Updated figures are due to be released later this week.

Investors often buy gold as a hedge against inflation. The price rose steadily late in the summer on hopes that central banks in Europe and the U.S. would impose new measures to encourage growth. Those measures were adopted last month.

They also had anticipated similar measures for China. China is a huge importer of commodities, from oil and copper to soybeans so its economic growth affects prices globally.

Now, investors wonder if Chinese leaders will take more action and, if they do, what form that will take, Kingsview Financial analyst Matt Zeman said.

"The bottom line is China's in this kind of gray area where...things aren't as good as people want them to be but they're not bad enough to continue to just throw money at the market," he said.

Most commodities finished lower as investors opted to sell riskier assets. They also are awaiting more economic reports from the U.S. this week that could shed light on whether its economy is improving.

December silver dropped 92.6 cents, or 2.8 percent, to finish at $32.743 per ounce, December copper dropped 0.15 cent to end at $3.7015 per pound, January platinum dropped $27 to $1,632.30 per ounce and December palladium fell $6.45 to $632.60 per ounce.

Oil prices fell as worries about weaker demand overshadowed positive U.S. economic news, including stronger retail sales that indicated consumers could be getting more confident about the economy.

Benchmark oil fell 1 cent to finish at $91.85 per barrel, heating oil dropped 1.48 cents to $3.2091 per gallon, wholesale gasoline declined 4.25 cents to $2.8503 per gallon and natural gas fell 12.5 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $3.486 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Agricultural crops finished lower. December wheat decreased 8.5 cents to end at $8.4825 per bushel, December corn fell 15.5 cents to $7.3725 per bushel and November soybeans ended down 30 cents at $14.925 per bushel.


AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.