Signs of new Middle Eastern bullion sales triggered an early slide in gold futures prices but the market partially recovered after traders learned that the amount of physical gold sold was relatively small.
On other commodity markets, energy futures advanced; sugar futures rallied; cotton slipped further; livestock and meat futures were mixed, and grains and soybeans were mixed.
Gold futures settled $2.70 to $3 lower on New York's Commodity Exchange, with the contract for delivery in August at $357.10 an ounce. The lightly traded July contract finished at $355.50.
Silver futures settled 1 cent to 1.4 cents higher, with July at $4.811 an ounce.
Gold prices plunged about $5 an ounce early in the session amid rumors of new bullion sales from the Middle East. The talk stirred fears that Saudi Arabia was again dumping large amounts of gold onto the market, as it is believed to have done on three occasions this year. The previous events prompted steep declines in gold prices, which were around $420 an ounce in mid-February.