) -- Gold prices were hit hard today.

Gold futures for April delivery are trading down $23 at $1,552.90 per ounce. Spot gold last traded down about $30 at $1,553.30. As of this writing, the SPDR Gold Shares ($GLD) is trading down 1.4% at $150.24. Spot gold is now trading at the lowest level since July 2012.

Chart selling continues to hurt gold prices. This market has been "lined" with sell stops for some time, and longs are continuing to throw in the towel. The inability of gold prices to maintain trade above key moving averages and above the $1,600 level was the initial trigger for the wave of selling.

There is also widespread discussion today of a continuing drop in holdings of the GLD. There does certainly appear to be a divergence between buyers of physical metals and people who buy "paper" metals. Buyers of physical bullion may see this drop as another opportunity to add to holdings.

Perhaps this divergence is due to the fact that physical buyers may purchase the metal for different reasons than those who invest in an ETF or other gold-based products.

Whatever the reason (or reasons) for gold prices dropping, serious chart damage (see below; source: QST) has been sustained at this point. Gold futures for June delivery are now sitting on weekly chart support at $1,550. This area is the line in the sand. It will either prove to be an awesome buy, or a breach lower will set up more downside for gold, which could see the long-term trend of bullion flip to the downside. We shall see . ...

Gold will continue to monitor outside markets. Crude oil is getting hit hard today as well. The U.S. Dollar Index ($DX) is taking a breather and trading moderately lower. Stocks are not faring much better, with the SPY currently trading down.

Clearly, the focus this week will be on Friday's non-farm payrolls report. The report could determine gold's fate for the near future. Should a large miss occur, that just might be the catalyst for safe-haven buying to return to the yellow metal. Should the number come out better than expected, it will likely pave the way for higher equities and risk assets, and may very well send bullion prices even lower.

Please visit our Web site for updates on the gold market and useful information for purchasing the physical metal.

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This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Matt Zeman is a trader at

Kingsview Financial

. He began his trading career as a runner in the grain pits at the Chicago Board of Trade before becoming an arbitrage clerk. Eventually he started trading equity options and stocks. Matt now is a full-time futures broker and also authors a blog for gold investors at

Appreciate Gold

, and contributes to


J.M. Bullion

. He has been a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox and Bloomberg, and provides his views on the stock, bond and futures markets for financial media including Dow Jones, the L.A. Times and The Associated Press. Matt is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, and carries series 3, 7 and 66 licenses.