Gold chalked up another record peak on Tuesday, while equity markets struggled with mounting coronavirus fears amid a political fight in Washington over another fiscal package to support the battered US economy.
With fresh infection spikes in Asia and Europe -- on top of the already high number of new cases in the US -- and new containment measures, the global economic outlook remains clouded.
Virus uncertainty combined with China-US tensions has sent gold soaring nearly 30 percent this year -- and on Tuesday it struck another record pinnacle at $1,981.27 per ounce in Asian trade before pulling back somewhat.
Some observers still predict $2,000 could be broken as early as this week.
The euro pulled back from its recent nearly two-year peak ahead of Wednesday's Federal Reserve meeting, part of a jam-packed US economic calendar playing out over the next couple of days.
Investors are also looking ahead to the first estimate of second-quarter US gross domestic product and a congressional hearing with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.
Wall Street stocks finished decisively lower as legislators in Washington appeared far apart on another round of fiscal support for the coronavirus-battered economy.
Republican congressional leaders on Monday released details of their long-awaited spending plan to boost the economy.
However, the proposal contains many differences from the one backed by congressional Democrats.
Supplemental unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire this week, putting pressure on Washington to come up with a replacement for funds that have helped blunt the economic carnage from the shutdowns so far.
"The spread between the Democratic and Republican proposals hasn't closed any," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.
"The market is frustrated at how we have to watch Washington grind things out."
- Key figures around 2110 GMT -
Gold: UP 0.9 percent at $1,959.77 per ounce
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 26,379.28 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,218.44 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 1.3 percent at 10,402.09 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,129.26 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: FLAT at 12,835.28 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,928.94 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,303.56 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,657.38 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.7 percent at 24,772.76 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,227.96 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1721 from $1.1752 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.09 yen from 105.37 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2932 from $1.2882
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.61 pence from 91.23
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.3 percent at $41.04 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $43.22 per barrel