NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Gold prices continued to fall Monday after China slashed growth estimates to an eight-year low of 7.5%. Gold prices fell 3.5% last week, putting in the largest one-week decline since the week of December 18. The slide was continuing Monday. Gold for April delivery was falling $8.40 to $1,701.40 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The gold price traded as high as $1,718 and as low as $1,694.40 an ounce, while the spot price was losing $9.20, according to Kitco's gold index. Silver prices were sinking 83 cents to $33.69 an ounce while the U.S. dollar index was falling 0.13% at $79.301.
Investors were selling equities after China reduced its economic growth target for the year and a gauge of business activity in the eurozone declined. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao slashed China's 2012 economic growth target to an eight-year low of 7.5%, citing high inflation and a tepid worldwide economic outlook. China has been among the fastest-growing economies in recent years, outstripping the performance of developed nations such as the U.S. and U.K. Meanwhile, the private-sector HSBC China services index showed that the country's services sector progressed at its fastest pace in four months last month, but was markedly below its long-term trend. The private-sector HSBC China Services Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a seasonally adjusted 53.9 in February from 52.5 in January. "Proving for the nth time that what happens in China is a pivotal impact factor to the commodities' space, the most recent development in that country sent base and precious metals prices, along with most global equity markets, lower overnight," said Jon Nadler, senior metals analyst with Kitco Metals. "The first forecast for lower economic growth in eight years for that country derailed many an asset as the new trading week commenced. Gold and silver were clearly not immune to the negative news." In Europe, Markit Economics said that its composite purchasing managers' index for the continent fell to 49.3 in February from the earlier estimate of 49.7 and from the previous month's reading of 50.4. The below-50 reading indicates business activity contracted last month. Mining stocks were following prices lower on Monday. Among the biggest losers were Great Panther Silver ( GPL), shedding 4.6% to $2.46, and Freeport-McMoRan ( FCX), falling 4.5% to $40.13. Eldorado Gold ( EGO) was losing 4.4% to $14.24 and Silver Wheaton ( SLW) was down 3.9% to $36.10. -- Written by Ross Tucker in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ross Tucker. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/rosstucker. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.