Gold Futures Settle at 3-Week Low, Silver Drops Under $40

Gold futures plummeted on Thursday, with the COMEX December 2011 contract settling lower by $45.10, or 2.5%, at $1,781.40 per ounce.  In doing so, gold futures finished at their lowest level since August 25, three weeks ago.

Following the COMEX close, the yellow metal recovered a modest portion of its losses in electronic trading, as it bounced back to $1,793.50 as of 3:30pm ET.

Silver futures tumbled alongside gold, by $0.76, or 1.9%, to $39.77 per ounce.  COMEX silver for December delivery reached an intra-day low of $39.40 this morning, but also pared its losses this afternoon.

Despite the sell-off in precious metals, gold and silver equities held firm.  The Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index (XAU) was lower by only 0.1% at 214.50 in afternoon trading.