Newcrest shares hit by gold slide

Shares in miner decline more than 3% as gold price slumps to 15-month low.

Shares in Newcrest (NCM) have dropped sharply in early trade as the price of gold fell to its lowest level in 15 weeks on signs of improvement in the US economy and hopes of stability in Ukraine dimmed investor appetite for the safe-haven asset.

At 11.15am (AEST) Newcrest shares were 3.71% lower at $9.87, against a benchmark index lift of 0.21%. In earlier trade, Newcrest shares hit as low as $9.81.

Gold for June delivery, the most active contract, fell $US26.20, or 2%, to settle at $US1,265.50 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices have been stuck near $US1,300 a troy ounce in recent weeks amid a tug-of-war between investors seeking safety from a political conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and traders looking to slash gold holdings on an improving US economic picture.

But a weekend presidential election in Ukraine soothed some worries about Eastern Europe, brokers said.

At the same time, a batch of stronger US economic data hammered gold prices to close at their lowest level since February 7.

One report showed that US consumer confidence rose in May, while another said that US durable goods orders rose 0.8% in April, bucking calls for a 0.7% drop