GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares hold steady after Fed stimulus boost
* World shares steady at five-year high, dollar inches off lows * Wall Street little changed but still on track for strong week * Euro near 7-1/2-month high vs dlr but cautious ahead of German vote * Indian markets roiled by surprise rate hike by central bank By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters) - World share indexes were little changed on Friday, consolidating after a week of major gains that took them to record levels after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided to maintain its stimulus program. Currencies and bonds were mostly unchanged on the day, while gold prices dropped and Brent crude rose. After the sharp moves of Wednesday and Thursday, equity trading was subdued as investors took stock of their positions and locked in some of the gains. Investors also looked ahead to German elections on Sunday. European shares dipped 0.2 percent while the euro was holding near an eight-month high after its best week since July. MSCI's index of world shares fell 0.3 percent but was on track for its third straight week of 2 percent plus gains and hovered near a five-year high. Japanese stocks slipped 0.2 percent. Although the Fed's move has spurred market gains, taking U.S. indexes to all-time highs, uncertainty over central bank policy remained. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said a wind-down of the stimulus program was possible in October. "We're cautioning our clients to keep their powder dry. While markets aren't historically overbought and the Fed has removed some uncertainty, we wouldn't be surprised if we saw some kind of correction going into October," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 25.78 points, or 0.16 percent, at 15,610.77. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.16 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,721.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6.86 points, or 0.18 percent, at 3,796.24. For the week, the S&P is up 2 percent. The U.S. dollar index rose less than 0.1 percent, holding above its week lows against a basket of major currencies having found support after a string of upbeat U.S. data on Thursday. Analysts at BNP Paribas said they expected the greenback to "recover quickly versus the lower yielding currencies in the G10." Fadi Zaher, head of bonds and currencies at Kleinwort Benson, said they were also betting on dollar gains.After taking a battering in May and June on prospects of reduced stimulus, emerging market currencies and stocks were some of the biggest winners from Wednesday's Fed move. Indian financial markets were roiled again on Friday, however, after the Reserve Bank of India unexpectedly raised interest rates by 25 basis points. The Indian rupee fell 0.7 percent to 62.23 to the dollar while Indian shares fell almost 2 percent. GERMAN ELECTION CALM Thursday's brighter U.S. data, which included a surge in home sales and some encouraging unemployment claims figures, provided a timely reminder that a scaling back of stimulus will come eventually, despite this week's delay. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 2/32, with the yield at 2.7594 percent. Benchmark 10-year German government bonds were also stable at 1.901 percent after yields - which move inversely to prices - sank to a one-month low of 1.812 percent on Thursday. The euro and the bloc's shares and higher yielding bonds have been supported by recent signs of economic recovery, but some market players are getting nervous before Sunday's German election. Though Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to win a third term her lead has narrowed in recent opinion polls. A new eurosceptic party, Alternative for Germany, could make headway in parliament, which might rattle some investors. "If the party gets 5-to-6 percent of the vote, people will start gauging the risk of Germany leaving the euro. That would be negative for the euro zone," said Arihiro Nagata, head of foreign bond trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. In the commodities market, Brent crude oil rose 0.5 percent to $109.32 per barrel, rebounding after a 1.5 percent drop the previous day on increased Libyan production and signs of a thawing of diplomatic relations between Iran and the West. Meanwhile, gold, whose reputation as an inflation hedge means it usually benefits from central bank stimulus, fell 1.6 percent, though it remains on track for its best week in five.
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