GLOBAL MARKETS-Copper and oil fall, world equities drift
* Copper posts largest drop in a month, gold rises again * Snow-blasted Wall Street up in low volume * Euro runs into profit-taking, yen gets a lift By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Copper futures dropped on Friday on concerns over Chinese growth and as the U.S. dollar strengthened, while crude oil extended recent losses and a global gauge of equities was little changed. Stocks ticked higher on Wall Street after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank is committed to highly accommodative policy even as it has decided to trim its bond-buying stimulus. The move may have been exaggerated as low volume prevailed due to a snowstorm that blanketed the U.S. Northeast, including financial hubs New York and Boston. European shares successfully battled a wave of risk aversion that swept across Asia, where stocks slid after a measure of activity in China's services sector slipped in December. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 74.82 points, or 0.46 percent, at 16,516.17. The S&P 500 was up 4.75 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,836.73. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.50 points, or 0.04 percent, at 4,141.57. The benchmark FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.5 percent, and MSCI's index of equities in 45 countries was flat. Three-month copper dropped 1.1 percent to $7,313.75 a tonne in its largest daily drop since Dec. 2. "Chinese worries are playing into recent commodity weakness," said Jim Russell, senior equities strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "There is concern on the outlook for 2014, many think it will represent a step down in growth rate in China as compared to recent years." He said strength in the U.S. dollar was also weighing on parts of the commodities complex, including oil. Expectations for a rise in Libyan supply and speculation of a buildup in U.S. stockpiles kept further pressure on oil prices after they tumbled Thursday. U.S. crude fell for a fourth consecutive day and hit a one-month low, and Brent dipped after posting its largest daily drop since late June. "The sentiment is still bearish for sure, and I think Libya is still going to be the key driving factor," said Amrita Sen, chief analyst at consultants Energy Aspects. U.S. crude was recently down 1.3 percent at $94.19 a barrel and Brent fell 0.8 percent to $106.91. Spot gold rose for a fourth session to hit a two-week high as weaker equities spurred demand for the metal as a safe-haven asset. It was recently up 0.9 percent at $1,235.71 per ounce. U.S. Bank's Russell said after a 28 percent drop last year some traders see value in gold, but "we think headwinds remain in place" for the precious metal. YEN BOUNCES BACK The yen edged up from recent five-year lows against the U.S. dollar. The greenback last traded 0.1 percent lower against the yen, at 104.69 yen, down from a five-year high of 105.44 yen set Thursday. The euro, the top-performing major currency of 2013, shed 0.6 percent to 142.33 yen, extending its losses in the wake of its more than 1 percent slide the previous day. Against the U.S. dollar, the euro lost 0.55 percent to $1.3595. "You have a holiday week, which is always going to be pretty light on volume and with most of the Northeast digging itself out of the snowstorm, that has made activity especially light, even for a holiday week," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, D.C. U.S. Treasuries prices ticked down, with benchmark 10-year yields hovering near 3 percent, with no major economic releases due and investors cautious heading into a busy week that includes the release of December's payrolls report.
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