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Gold fell the most since June in New York and silver prices declined as a plunge in global equity markets prompted investors to sell precious metals to raise cash.

U.S. stocks followed markets in Asia and Europe lower on concern a global credit crunch will slow economic growth. Before today, gold had gained 6.5 percent this year.

``There's just a lot of people running scared,'' said Matt Zeman, a trader at LaSalle Futures Group in Chicago. ``People are selling gold to cover losses in other markets.''

Gold futures for December delivery fell $14.80, or 2.2 percent, to $664.90 an ounce at 10:58 a.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. A close at that price would be the biggest decline for a most-active contract since June 8.

Silver futures for September delivery fell 48 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $12.075 an ounce. Before today, the metal had fallen 2.9 percent this year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell for a fourth straight day and is down 10 percent from a record reached July 19. The S&P 500's biggest drop this year was a 3.5 percent decline on Feb. 27, part of a five-day selloff in global equities that wiped out $2.4 trillion of market value. That week, gold fell 6.2 percent, the biggest weekly decline since July 2006.

``Forced liquidation sales are behind gold's slump,'' said Jon Nadler, an investment-products analyst at Montreal-based Kitco Minerals & Metals Co. ``Safe-haven buying is unable to offset the unwinding of positions by larger players.''

Investors are buying U.S. Treasuries instead of gold, analysts said. Two-year yields fell to the lowest in 22 months.

``The public is not turning to gold but rather Treasuries as the equity markets get pounded,'' said Ralph Preston, senior market analyst at futures brokerage Heritage West Financial Inc. in San Diego. ``A close under $675 is going to put the bulls on the defensive and embolden the bears.


"In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value."   Alan Greenspan