Commodities markets summary

AAP

A summary of trading in key commodities markets overseas:

ENERGY

Oil prices in New York have stabilised, but European crude have again sunk after a Kuwait official said OPEC would not take emergency actions to stop prices from falling.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery tacked on two US cents to $US55.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That snapped four straight days of declines.

European benchmark Brent oil for January delivery fell $US1.20 to $US59.86 a barrel in London.

Earlier, the US benchmark fell as low as $US53.60 a barrel.

PRECIOUS METALS

Gold futures fell on fears of a hawkish monetary policy statement from the Federal Reserve and concerns about the Russian rouble's continued decline.

Gold for February delivery, the most actively traded contract, fell $US13.40, or 1.1 per cent, to settle at $US1,194.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Federal Reserve began a two-day meeting on monetary policy. Gold has been under pressure recently on concern the central bank will drop phrasing that interest rates will remain near zero for a "considerable time" from its policy statement, and signal its intention to raise benchmark interest rates in 2015.

Gold also came under pressure amid speculation that the tumbling rouble could force the Russian government to sell off part of its sovereign gold holdings to repay debts. The Russian currency was recently down 2.7 per cent at 67.353 against the US dollar and has lost more than half its value against the greenback this year.

BASE METALS

Copper futures on the London Metal Exchange closed down after hitting a two-week low, with headwinds in emerging markets contributing to a down-swing in prices.

The LME's three-month copper contract was down 0.5 per cent at $US6,365.00 a metric ton at Tuesday's PM kerb close.

HSBC PMI data from China's manufacturing sector for December came in below analysts' expectations at 49.5 -- a seven-month low and the first time since May that it weighed in under 50.

Aluminium closed down 0.8 per cent at $US1,906.50 a ton -- a two-month low; zinc closed 1.4 per cent lower at $US2,140.00 a ton, its lowest level since June; nickel fell 2.7 per cent to finish at $US16,000.00 a ton. Lead hit a two-and-a-half-year low, closing 2.4 per cent lower at $US1,920.00 a ton; and tin closed down 1.6 per cent at $US20,025.00.