STOCKS: European stock index futures pointed to a higher open. Asian shares were mixed with a pick-up in China's manufacturing sector lending support but worries over the progress of U.S. budget talks to avert the "fiscal cliff" weighing on investor sentiment. U.S. stocks slid after the S&P's six days of gains on Thursday as uncertainty about Washington's "fiscal cliff" negotiations offset encouraging data on retail sales and jobless claims.
FOREX-Yen slips to 9-mth low ahead of Japan election
TOKYO, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The yen slipped to nine-month lows as Japan looks set to get a prime minister keen to push for more money printing by the central bank to stimulate the moribund economy.
"The market is growing confident the next government will be one of the most aggressive about easing that you could think of," said a trader at a Japanese bank.
China HSBC Dec flash manufacturing PMI firms to 50.9
Growth in China's vast manufacturing sector picked up in December, a preliminary private survey showed, with rises in areas such as new orders and employment underlining a brighter outlook for the economy in coming months.
Obama, Boehner hold 'frank' meeting amid 'fiscal cliff' frustration
President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner held a "frank" face-to-face meeting on Thursday in an effort to break an impasse in talks to avert the "fiscal cliff" of steep tax increases and spending cuts.
EU wheat exports, maize imports stay brisk
The European Union this week awarded the third-largest volume of soft wheat export licences so far this season, official data showed on Thursday, confirmation of brisk demand for EU wheat after a two-year high the previous week.
GRAINS: U.S. wheat rose for the first session in six, boosted by bargain hunting, but the staple remains on course for its biggest weekly loss in more than six months. Soybeans rose, supported by strong exports from the United States, while corn firmed after six straight sessions of losses.
OPEC relaxed on prospect of early 2013 stockbuild
OPEC is relaxed about the prospect of rising inventories in the first half of next year, the group's secretary general said on Thursday, so long as oil prices avoid extreme moves from their current acceptable level.
Miner Centamin tumbles as flagship mine suspended
Egypt-focused Centamin has suspended operations at its flagship Sukari mine after a dispute over diesel supplies and an export hitch left it without fuel and short of cash, sending its shares to a seven-year low.
OIL: Brent crude rose above $108 a barrel on a brighter outlook for China's economy, the world's second largest oil consumer, but worries about the impact of a possible U.S. fiscal crisis capped price gains.
BASE METAS: London copper firmed after data showed China's manufacturers built on a recovery this month, driving a fifth straight week of gains, but a lack of resolution to the U.S. "fiscal cliff" kept a lid on prices.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold traded steady, with prices heading for their third consecutive weekly drop, as investors cautiously watched U.S. talks to avoid a looming fiscal calamity that have so far made little progress.
METALS-LME copper firms after China manufacturing picks up
SINGAPORE, Dec 14 (Reuters) - London copper firmed after data showed China's manufacturers built on a recovery this month, driving a fifth straight week of gains, but a lack of resolution to the U.S. "fiscal cliff" kept a lid on prices.
"Going forward, this is all part of another big growth phase these numbers are good for a reason. Optimism is improving for the first quarter," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Barratt's Bulletin, a Sydney-based commodity research firm.
PRECIOUS-Gold heads for 3rd weekly drop; US budget talks eyed
SINGAPORE, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Gold struggled to rise above $1,700 an ounce and prices headed for their third consecutive weekly drop, as investors cautiously watched U.S. talks to avoid a looming fiscal calamity that have so far made little progress.
"It is hard to glean a real trend as everyone has closed down for the year," said a Sydney-based trader, adding that the sell-off on Thursday was a result of position liquidation by funds to lock in profit for the year.
Baltic Index down as capesize weakness continues
Dec 13 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry commodities, fell on Thursday as capesize rates extended a drop the previous day.
Capesize rates dropped for an 11th straight session on Thursday on weak iron ore demand in major consumer China.