Stock Market News Today, Jan. 2, 2014: U.S. stocks are kicking off the New Year on a heavy note in today's trading, with the Dow shedding more than 100 points as investors absorb fairly positive reports on jobless claims and U.S. manufacturing.
Initial jobless claims fell 2,000 to 339,000 last week, which is close to analyst expectations of a small increase for that week.
And U.S manufacturing wrapped up 2103 with stronger production figures than earlier in the year. The Institute for Supply Management's gauge of manufacturing revealed slightly slower growth in December, but still close to a two and a half year high.
European markets are also weighed today, even with upbeat European Union production data there, particularly in Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Meanwhile, oil prices are falling. Light, sweet crude oil for February delivery is down 0.8% at $97.61 per barrel. Heating oil is down 1.8% at $3.01 per gallon. Natural gas, however, is up 1.0% at $4.27 per million BTUs.
But as stocks and oil prices plummet, gold and silver prices are making significant strides today. Gold for February delivery is up more than $20 today at $1,223.80 per ounce, and silver for February delivery is up about 3.6% at $20.07 per ounce.
Major Stock Gainers: WPCS International, Oramed
Among the stocks catching headlines today, Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) , a biotechnology company, is up about 2% after it reported results from a phase 2 study evaluating romosozumab, a treatment for postmenopausal women with low bone mineral density. Amgen said the trial revealed "significant" increases in bone density in the spine and hip.
There were some double-digit gainers despite the Dow's triple-digit fall…