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While you were sleeping: Dug in for year end

While you were sleeping: Dug in for year end

(BusinessDesk) December 29 - It wouldn’t have taken much convincing but the biggest dump of snow in six decades helped investors hold their ground - even in the wake of China’s Christmas interest rate rise.

The latest data on the world’s biggest economy had an equally benign impact.

The Conference Board today said its confidence index unexpectedly fell to 52.5, lower than the most pessimistic forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Separately, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index showed prices of U.S. single-family homes fell at nearly double the expected pace in October.

“The money that has been put in place has been put in place until the end of the year - in spite of the fact we may get some modestly surprising data,” Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey, told Reuters.

The three U.S. stock benchmark indexes were mixed and trading volumes were lower than usual. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.03% higher at midday. The S&P 500 index slipped 0.05% and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.31%.

"Everybody has done what they need to do," Kenny said.

Shares in car maker General Motors Co advanced after several analysts initiated coverage after its return to trading, resulting in "overweight" ratings at Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley.

The blizzard in the northeastern United States that disrupted air and rail travel at the end of the busy Christmas weekend pushed up oil prices. U.S. crude for February was up 27 cents at US$91.27 a barrel.

While the snow has tapered and airports were clearing flights for takeoff and landing, it will be days before the backlog has been cleared, guaranteeing low trading volume until the New Year.

U.S. Treasuries declined before a US$35 billion auction of five-year securities.

The yield on the current five-year note rose seven basis points to 2.09% in late-morning trading in New York, according to BGCantor Market Data.

Investors have high expectations for some commodities heading into 2011.

Silver, an investment and an industrial material, will jump as much as 37% next year, leading gains in the 15 commodities covered in a Bloomberg survey of more than 100 analysts, traders and investors. Zinc, this year’s worst- performing metal, will appreciate 21%.

Meanwhile, gold jumped today, posting its biggest one-day gain since December 3. Prices are on track to end the year with a 28% gain, a record 10th consecutive annual advance.

"The end of the year loss of confidence in the dollar value has brought gold players back into the market on the long side. It's hard to say more than that," George Nickas, a gold broker at FC Stone in New York, told Reuters.

After reaching a two-week high of US$1,405.15 earlier in the session, spot gold was up 1.3% to US$1,402.20 by 9.34am EST.


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