Gold falls to lowest level in four years

Surging stocks, slumping oil prices and a stronger dollar are hitting gold hard. Its price fell as much as 2.4 percent Wednesday to its lowest point in four years.

The price of spot gold fell as low as $1,137 an ounce, the lowest since April 2010, breaking through a key level of support at $1,150 an ounce. By Wednesday afternoon, the price rebounded to $1,146.

The precious metal has become a little less precious lately, losing about $100 an ounce over the last week. Last month, gold fell below its starting point this year of $1,205 an ounce.

Gold often moves in opposite direction to the dollar, which has grown stronger as the Federal Reserve moves to wind down its stimulus program. The dollar also soared Wednesday after election victories for Republicans fueled hopes that Congress would end much of its political gridlock over the next two years.

The momentum triggered concerns that gold could fall further, perhaps even plunging below the hugely important $1,000 mark. Gold is now down 40 percent from its peak in September 2011. The SPDR Gold Trust ETF, which has physical holdings of gold as assets, was down 1.9 percent Wednesday to $110.10, its lowest point in four years.

The drop in gold is also taking a toll on the gold-mining industry. Experts said that as gold prices drop further, some miners could see their operations lose money. Miners have taken on enormous costs over the years, acquiring and developing new sites as gold saw a spectacular run.

Several mining company stocks have plunged in the last week, including Primero Mining Corp. (PPP), Goldcorp (GG), Eldorado Gold (EGO) and Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM).

Next up for gold investors is Friday's U.S. payroll report. If the report has strong numbers for the economy, gold could see more pressure, Kitco reports. "Any strong economic data for the U.S. is going to be bearish gold," analyst Frank Lesh told the metals market news site.

  • Kim Peterson

    Kim Peterson is a financial journalist covering business and the economy. She has written for several online and print publications, including MSN Money and The Seattle Times.