CHICAGO, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped sharply Friday, ending the week with a loss of 3.4 percent.
The most active gold contract for April delivery fell 26 dollars, or 1.59 percent, to settle at 1,609.5 dollars per ounce.
This is the lowest settlement price for gold since August 15, as well as the largest weekly decline since the week ended June 22.
Positive U.S. economic data dampened gold prices. The Empire State index jumped to 10 in February from negative 7.8 in January, according to New York Federal Reserve. This is the first time for manufacturing activity in New York region to expand in seven months.
The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment gauge rose to a preliminary reading of 76.3 in February, the highest level since November.
The 0.1-percent slip in industrial production has exerted little impact on gold.
The talk that George Soros' hedge fund has cut its holdings on a major gold fund also added pressure on gold, triggering technical selling.
Lack of physical demand for gold from Asia in recent days have accelerated the sell-off.
Investors have abstained from trading, waiting for the results of the Group 20 meeting held in Moscow.
There are reports that the Group 20 finance ministers and central bankers may pledge in a communique to avoid competitive devaluation of currencies.
Dollar's going strong also boosted gold. The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback against a basket of currencies climbed to 80.491 from 80.288 on Thursday.
If gold prices settle below 1,600 dollars per ounce, the next support level will be 1,550 dollar, market analysts hold.
Silver for March delivery lost 50.4 cents, or 1.66 percent, to close at 29.849 dollars per ounce. Platinum for April delivery dropped 33.2 dollars, or 1.94 percent, to close at 1,677.7 dollars per ounce.