* 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 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 drifted on Wall Street in low volume as a snowstorm
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
A speech by outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) will be in focus for any fresh details
on the Fed's economic stimulus withdrawal plans.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 12.08 points,
or 0.07 percent, at 16,453.43. The S&P 500 was down 0.71
points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,831.27. The Nasdaq Composite
was down 10.66 points, or 0.26 percent, at 4,132.41.
The benchmark FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.5
percent, and MSCI's index of equities in 45 countries
was down 0.1 percent.
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 1.4 percent at $94.12 a barrel
and Brent fell 0.7 percent to $107.03.
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 $1,236.06
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 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 0.3 percent lower against the yen,
at 104.47 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 142.06 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 0.5 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 ticked up, with benchmark 10-year
yields hovering near 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.