Silver dives again as commodities drubbing continues
The price of silver - one of the most volatile commodities of late - has dropped another 17% in 24 hours.
The precious metal is down 35% since setting an all-time high two weeks ago.
Oil prices also fell, with US light, sweet crude down another 4.5%, before bouncing, after a 5% fall on Wednesday.
Traders say market volatility has been driven by concern at the weakness of the US and European recoveries, as well as the unwinding of heavy bets on price rises by market speculators.
"Everyone's wondering if the commodity bubble has burst," said a broker based in London.
Silver - which is predominantly used as an industrial metal - had been at the forefront of the commodities rally over the last year, with many speculators coming to value it as a cheaper alternative to gold.
But the direction of speculative money has now sharply reversed.
"Investor interest in silver has declined dramatically since the start of the correction, epitomised by the large outflows [from exchange-traded funds]," according to Anne-Laure Tremblay, an analyst at the French investment bank BNP Paribas.
Meanwhile, prices of other raw materials have also fallen across markets, notably those of industrial metals such as lead, copper, aluminium and tin, all of which were down another 2-3% by mid-afternoon trading in Europe on Thursday.
However, it is the price of oil that has attracted most political attention, with many keen to blame speculators for the previous rally.
The head of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, told the Senate finance committee on Thursday that the oil price should only be about $60-$70 based on the actual cost of production, implying that the difference was largely down to market speculators.
A group of 17 senators in Washington have been calling for new regulations to limit traders' ability to bet on rising oil prices.