GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares rise, gold up but plunges for quarter
* World equity markets rise as unease over stimulus withdrawal fades * Gold to close worst quarter on records going back to 1968 * Dollar/yen at three-week high, edges close to 100 yen * Trade seen dominated by end-of-quarter adjustments By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - World equity markets rose for a fourth day on Friday but the quarter was set to finish in the red for a gauge of world stocks and other assets as fears of an early withdrawal of U.S. monetary stimulus spiked volatility and weighed on markets. The broad S&P 500 index was flat, while better economic data from Japan and efforts by China's central bank to ease credit concerns gave other equity markets support. MSCI's world equity index rose 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 60.98 points or 0.41 percent, to 14,963.51, the S&P 500 lost 1.56 points or 0.1 percent, to 1,611.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.91 points or 0.29 percent, to 3,411.77. Markets were volatile as the second quarter drew to a close as investors pondered the likely impact of an end to the era of easy money from the Federal Reserve and other central banks that has been instrumental for rallies in various markets. "The market is continuing to adjust as we try to figure out what's going on with respect to Fed policy, and we should continue to see volatility as things get sorted out," said Rex Macey, who helps oversee $20 billion in assets as chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust in Atlanta, Georgia, adding "We're cooling off a little bit after a few days of strong action." Global stock, bond and commodity markets have been highly volatile since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signalled last week that the U.S. central bank would soon cut the pace of its stimulative bond buying unless the economic recovery slows. Following two Fed speakers who on Thursday seemed to back away from Bernanke's comments, Fed Governor Jeremy Stein and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker showed a more aggressive tone on when the central bank's unprecedented policy accommodation might be reduced. Talk of the Fed 'tapering' its bond buying hit Treasury prices hard. The slump in prices started in May, gaining momentum with Bernanke's words last week. With month- and quarter-end also adding to volatility, exposure to U.S. Treasuries through the iShares Barclays 20-year-plus exchange-traded fund was set to take its hardest quarterly hit since the start of 2012. The recent choppiness could linger in markets in the next few days, said Justin Lederer, strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York, especially going into next Friday's monthly U.S. payrolls report. "That could definitely set the tone for a date for QE" to start winding down, he added. The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note fell 7/32 in price to yield 2.5 percent, compared with 2.476 percent late on Thursday. A Reuters survey of 53 investors across the United States, Europe and Japan released on Friday found that funds had already cut their average equity holdings in June to a nine-month low due to the recent volatility and had held more cash. Gold, which had soared in value as a hedge against higher inflation from all the cheap central bank money being printed, has slumped. Despite its strongest one-day rally in more than a month, spot gold prices are on track to post their largest monthly loss since October 2008, with prices at levels not seen since August 2010. For the quarter, gold lost about 24 percent, the largest such decline on records going back to 1968. WINDOW DRESSING The end-of-quarter manoeuvring was cited for volatility in the euro on Friday. The euro zone common currency was off 0.2 percent to $1.3012. The broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.45 percent to end June 5.3 percent lower after a record 12 monthly rises. Earlier, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1.4 percent, pulling further away from an 11-month low and wiping out this week's losses. It was still down around 7 percent for the year. China's stock markets had also seen their biggest gains in two months after the country's central bank, which had let short-term borrowing costs spike to record highs, said it would ensure its policy supported a slowing economy. Brent crude oil futures were slightly lower on the day but still on track for their first monthly rise in five months. Copper edged up but faced its biggest quarterly loss in almost two years.
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