Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell back below the 1, 700 dollars an ounce mark on Monday, as optimism about the Greek situation seemed to be outweighed by market concerns about the economic prospects of China, the world's second largest economy.
The most active gold contract for April delivery decreased 11.7 dollars, or 0.68 percent, to settle at 1,699.8 dollars per ounce.
Monday was the first day of trading following a weekend report from China that the country recorded a 31.5-billion-U.S.-dollar trade deficit in February, taking many analysts by surprise.
Traditionally China records far more trade surpluses than deficits, and even the traditional losses China incurs every February due to the Lunar New Year holidays fail to account for the sharp drop. Combined Chinese totals for 2011 January and February came to 890 million U.S. dollars, compared to 4.25 billion now in 2012.
Analysts said that news of China's February trade deficit, combined with last week's reduced growth projection for the Chinese economy from 8 percent to 7.5 percent, seemed to bother some traders on Monday, as gold retreated from the steady gains last week to close on a more negative note.
Such a trend seemed to indicate that growth concerns rising from China's trade deficit have outweighed the recent optimism over the situation in Greece, added the analysts.
Silver for May delivery also fell 80 cents, or 2.34 percent, to settle at 33.41 dollars per ounce. However, platinum for April delivery gained 10.8 dollars, or 0.64 percent, to close at 1,695. 70 dollars per ounce.