* 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 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
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
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
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
"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.