Gold futures prices soared above $400 an ounce Tuesday for the first time in nearly three years, while platinum advanced the limit allowed for daily trading.
The sharp movement in precious metals sent Treasury bonds down the limit, "and bonds took the stock market with it," said Jack Barbanel, an analyst in New York with Gruntal & Co.
In some other markets, soybeans were sharply lower, pork bellies were up the limit and oil futures were higher.
Led by platinum on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the strength in precious metals signaled a loss of faith in the American economy, Barbanel said.
"There was very strong buying in the European market . . . that built momentum overnight" and set the stage for the price movements in this country, he said.