* U.S. stocks edge up after previous week's loss
* Volume light on Veterans Day; bond market closed
* Euro zone finance ministers meet to discuss Greece
* Soy hits 4-month low, almost erasing drought rally
By Ellen Freilich
NEW YORK, Nov 12 U.S. stocks rose in choppy
trade on Monday as firmer Chinese economic data offset concerns
about a possible U.S. fiscal crisis and delays to an installment
of Greek aid.
News that Chinese exports rose sharply in October, signaling
the giant economy was strengthening, encouraged investors.
But stock market gains were limited, made tentative by
concerns about the euro zone and possible higher U.S. taxes and
spending cuts in the early part of 2013.
In Chicago, grain futures tumbled amid a wave of technical
selling, with soybeans sinking to a 4-1/2-month low that nearly
erased gains from this summer's devastating drought.
Prices had already been under pressure after the U.S.
Department of Agriculture o n F riday raised its estimate for U.S.
soybean production more than expected and increased its forecast
for global inventories. Most actively traded January soybeans
fell 2.9 percent to $14.10 a bushel on the Chicago Board
of Trade by 1:40 p.m. CST (1840 GMT).
The euro treaded water against the dollar, hovering close to
a recent two-month low at $1.2719 as uncertainty about
another tranche of financial aid for Greece to help pay off its
debt kept investors cautious. The euro is down about 1.9 percent
against the dollar so far in November.
On Wall Street, the stock market's modest gains came after
the S&P 500 slid 2.4 percent last week, its worst week since
June. The benchmark index remains up 10 percent for 2012.
Last week's weakness was partly driven by concerns about
whether there will be a timely solution to avoid a combination
of government spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect
early next year unless Congress reaches a compromise. Economists
fear tax increases and spending cuts could tip the economy back
into recession if a deal is not reached.
"The markets don't like uncertainty and while the election
is over, investors must still deal with the fiscal cliff, the
debt ceiling and the unpredictable situation in Europe," said
Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and
derivatives at Charles Schwab, in Austin, Texas.
"But, keep in mind, the markets are clearly oversold in the
short-term and even a hint of resolution on any of these issues
could spark a nice bounce," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24.73 points,
or 0.19 percent, at 12,839.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 2.93 points, or 0.21 percent, at 1,382.70. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.27 points, or 0.15
percent, at 2,809.14.
In the United States, homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc
reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, helped
by a jump in orders. D.R. Horton's shares gained 3.1 percent to
Overseas, a weekend report showing China's export growth
climbed to a five-month high added to recent data suggesting the
country's seven straight quarters of slowing economic growth
Also, the Greek parliament on Sunday approved an austerity
budget for next year, a necessary step to unblock a new tranche
of credit from the European Union and International Monetary
Fund before the government runs out of cash. Still, investors
remain concerned about whether the EU and IMF will agree to send
the next tranche.
The MSCI world equity index was down 0.04
percent at 323.12 by 2055 GMT following the three days of losses
In Europe the FTSEurofirst 300 Index was down 0.26
percent at 1,094.35 after last week's 1.6 percent drop. London's
FTSE 100 was down 0.04 percent and Frankfurt's DAX
was up 0.07 percent while Paris' CAC-40 was
The uncertainty over the Greek aid talks and the U.S. budget
impasse supported German government bonds, with 10-year yields
steady at 1.35 percent.
European credit markets were also flat, with the iTraxx main
index, made up of 125 investment-grade bonds, 0.4 basis points
wider at 131 basis points.
In the oil market, worries about the danger of the United
States, the world's top oil consumer, tipping into recession as
a result of the fiscal cliff and the weak Japanese data were
checked by the strong Chinese trade numbers.
Brent crude oil futures fell 52 cents to $108.89 by
1900 GMT, after gaining more than 2 percent on Friday. U.S. oil
was down 35 cents at $85.71 after finishing up more than
1 percent last week to end a three-week slide.
Gold was at $1.728.49 an ounce, well above a 2-month
low around $1,672 hit last week.