* Gold down more than 1 pct in commodities selloff * Bullion briefly below $1,550/oz, hits weakest since June * Safe-haven bids absent on Wall St losses, North Korea tension * Coming up: U.S. initial jobless claims Thursday (Recasts, updates with market activity) By Frank Tang NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - Gold tumbled to a nine-month low on Wednesday, losing more than 1 percent as plummeting crude oil prices and sharp losses in U.S. equities triggered a sell-off in assets across the board. Bullion briefly broke below $1,550 an ounce for the first time this year, as swelling U.S. crude stockpiles weighed on the metal's inflation-hedge appeal. Gold fell sharply for a second day as safe-haven buying was absent as an over one percent drop of U.S. equities after a disappointing U.S. private-sector job report dragged commodities broadly lower. Economic optimism had lifted the S&P 500 to an all-time closing high last Thursday. "The stock market rally is drawing off a tremendous amount of investment interest from the precious metals market. It could get a very sharp downside reaction to possibly to $1,400 before we find support," said Frank McGhee, head precious metals trader at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC. Spot gold was down 1.2 percent to $1,555.89 an ounce by 3:08 p.m. EST (1908 GMT), having hit an earlier low of $1,549.69, a level last seen on June 28, 2012. The precious metal fell sharply for a second day after its previous session's 1.4 percent drop, as safe-haven buying dried up on rallying global stock markets. U.S. gold futures for April delivery settled down $22.30 at $1,552.80 an ounce, with trading volume in line with its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed. The metal, a traditional safe haven, also failed to respond to rising geopolitical tensions in the Korean peninsular. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States sees a "real and clear" danger from North Korea due to its nuclear and missile capabilities, and the Pentagon was sending a ballistic missile defense system to Guam as a precaution against Pyongyang. Gold also appeared to ignored market talk about a breakdown in nuclear talks between Iran and world powers later in the week. SAFE HAVEN FADES, SPDR GOLD DOWN Easing euro zone fears after Cyprus clinched a $10 billion international bailout last week also weighed down on gold. "This is clearly not a rush to the exit as there is still plenty of fear in the market, but we have clearly shifted more toward a bear trend," said Robert Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. Hopes for a U.S. economic recovery and a possible halt to Bank of Japan's monetary easing, which could come at its policy meeting later this week, have made it tough for investors to like gold, Haworth said.
Investment buying in gold remained weak as bullion holdings in the world's No. 1 gold-backed exchange-traded fund SPDR Gold Trust fell 0.7 percent as of Tuesday. The gold ETF posted a record monthly outflow in February on possible hedge fund liquidations, traders said. Credit Suisse and Societe Generale became the latest banks to cut gold and silver price forecasts for this year and next. Spot silver fell 0.8 percent to $26.98 an ounce, having earlier hit $26.72, its lowest level since July 2012. Among platinum group metals, platinum was down 2.2 percent to $1,534.99 an ounce, after hitting $1,527 an ounce earlier, its lowest price this year. Palladium also dropped 1.6 percent to $751.97 an ounce. 3:08 PM EST LAST/ NET PCT LOW HIGH CURRENT SETTLE CHNG CHNG VOL US Gold APR 1552.80 -22.30 -1.4 1549.20 1576.40 2,083 US Silver MAY 26.797 -0.451 -1.7 26.670 27.315 59,703 US Plat APR 1539.80 -32.00 -2.0 1535.50 1574.20 110 US Pall JUN 755.45 -13.95 -1.8 751.75 773.95 4,095 Gold 1555.89 -19.35 -1.2 1550.55 1576.91 Silver 26.980 -0.220 -0.8 26.720 27.350 Platinum 1534.99 -34.51 -2.2 1527.00 1572.50 Palladium 751.97 -12.03 -1.6 754.00 770.00 TOTAL MARKET VOLUME 30-D ATM VOLATILITY CURRENT 30D AVG 250D AVG CURRENT CHG US Gold 202,880 203,058 172,285 15.07 1.30 US Silver 69,467 54,593 51,985 21.1 0.57 US Platinum 14,592 16,548 11,734 15.46 1.19 US Palladium 4,150 7,170 5,186 (Additional reporting by Jan Harvey in London; Editing by David Goodman and Grant McCool)