LONDON Gold's recent slump could have much further to run, with a breach of its April low at $1,322 potentially setting up bigger losses towards levels not seen since mid-2010, chart analysts say.
Since posting its biggest two-day loss in 30 years last month, bullion has struggled to recover, and last week suffered its longest string of daily losses in four years.
With April's low again looming, a breach could spark a significant move lower, according to analysts who study past price moves to determine the future direction of trade.
"If that gives way, it will attract fresh selling pressure. That impetus could see it break below $1,304 and down towards the $1,161 area," UBS technical strategist Richard Adcock said.
"It's a break of that point that would pressure longs further, triggering more selling pressure as we start to see long-term longs close down, and people initiating short positions again."
Commerzbank neutralised its previously negative one-month forecast after the market staged a bounce of more than 2 percent on Monday, adding that more short-term gains may be seen.
But Commerzbank analyst Axel Rudolph said the overall picture remains negative as long as gold remains below resistance around $1,500-1,532.20.
"This is not over yet," he said.
April's prices slump came as a stock market rally prompted investors to switch out of gold investments such as bullion-backed exchange-traded funds, and as speculation grew that the Federal Reserve may rein in its gold-friendly monetary easing measures.
It was exacerbated by a breach of one of gold's most important chart levels, the $1,521 December 2011 low.
Prices rebounded as buyers of gold bars, coins and jewellery stepped in to take advantage of lower prices, but that petered out below $1,490 an ounce.
"The rally stopped just shy of $1,500 and didn't break back above that $1,522 area," said Gerry Celaya, a technical analyst at Redtower Research. "That's pretty important from a trading point of view in terms of underlining the bearish sentiment."
GRAPHIC - Gold support levels: link.reuters.com/ceh38t
Gold prices are now in bear market territory after falling more than 20 percent from their September 2011 record, and are down more than 18 percent on the year. If gold closes the year below $1,675, it will record its first yearly loss since 2000.
While April's fall broke gold out of its sideways trend of the previous 18 months, it has not fully negated its longer-term uptrend, which took prices from $250 an ounce in 2001 to 2011's record high at $1,920.30.
"The past 12-year (underlying) uptrend structure is probably still intact," Cliff Green, of the independent Cliff Green Consultancy, told the Reuters Global Gold Forum this week.
"I have two major trend lines from that sort of timeframe - the first sits around $1,100. A break of that would set up a test of the flatter one in and around $800."
Immediate support below $1,322 is seen in the $1,301-1,308 area, the location of 2011's low and the 50 percent retracement of gold's rally to 2011's record high at $1,920.30 an ounce from its 2008 low.
But gold's grind lower over recent months is an indicator of its vulnerability.
UBS' Adcock said that on a monthly basis gold's MACD (moving average divergence-convergence) indicator is now below its zero line for the first time since about December 2001, potentially reflecting a much more significant longer-term bearish trend.
"You could argue that the market is now trading in a bearish pattern of lower highs and lower lows," Adcock said.
"Couple that with the long-term monthly MACD level, and that is further evidence that the market is now trading in a bearish trend, that the longer term uptrend is ending, and that we are entering into a longer-term bearish theme."
(Reporting by Jan Harvey; editing by Veronica Brown and Jason Neely)