* Copper posts largest drop in a month, gold rises again
* Snow-blasted Wall Street hovers near unchanged
* Euro runs into profit-taking, yen gets a lift
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 3 A global gauge of equities
dipped on Friday after kicking off the first trading day of the
new year with a sharp loss, while the rebound in gold continued
and crude prices fell further.
Copper prices posted their largest daily drop in a month,
hit by concerns over Chinese growth, a day after touching a
Low volumes were expected in the United States as a
snowstorm blanketed the country's Northeast, including financial
hubs New York and Boston. A speech by outgoing Federal Reserve
Chairman Ben Bernanke at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) will be the focus
for any fresh details on the Fed's economic stimulus withdrawal
"I don't think Bernanke will say anything market-moving
today. The market will stay steady today, gearing up for next
week," which will feature a host of economic reports and the
start of the fourth-quarter earnings season, said Peter
Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 14.12 points,
or 0.09 percent, at 16,455.47. The S&P 500 Index was down
1.75 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,830.23. The Nasdaq Composite
was down 16.13 points, or 0.39 percent, at 4,126.94.
European stock markets resisted a wave of risk aversion that
swept across Asia, where stocks suffered their toughest session
in almost a month after a measure of activity in China's
services sector slipped in December, just as one for
manufacturing had on Thursday.
The benchmark FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.5
percent, and MSCI's index of equities in 45 countries
was down 0.15 percent.
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 1 percent at $1,236.26 an
Three-month copper dropped 1 percent to $7,319.50 a
ton in its largest daily drop since Dec. 2.
Expectations for a rise in Libyan supply and speculation of
a buildup in U.S. stockpiles kept pressure on oil prices after
they tumbled Thursday. U.S. crude fell to a one-month low
after four consecutive declines, 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 1.1 percent at $94.44 a barrel
and Brent fell 0.7 percent to $107.02.
YEN BOUNCES BACK
The yen rose as investors shunned risk and took profits
after rallies in the U.S. dollar and the euro, helping the
Japanese currency bounce from recent five-year lows.
The greenback last traded 0.2 percent lower against the yen,
at 104.51 yen, down from a five-year high of 105.44 yen
The euro, the top-performing major currency of 2013, shed
0.8 percent to 142.08 yen, extending its losses in
the wake of its 1.2 percent slide the previous day.
Against the U.S. dollar, the euro lost 0.55 percent to
"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 fell, sending benchmark 10-year
yields brushing against 3 percent, with no major
economic releases due and investors cautious heading into a busy
week, including the release of the minutes from the Federal
Reserve's December meeting.