The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average stumbled Friday, the last trading day
of the second quarter, with investors focused on the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Markets were mixed. The DJIA dropped 114.89 points, or 0.76 percent, to 14,909.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 6.92 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,606.28. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index gained 1.38 points, or 0.04 percent, to 3,403.25.
Both the DJIA and the S&P 500 posted numerous all-time closing highs in the past three months in a rally that has been evident since November, and all the more so from the first of the year, when Washington lawmakers sidestepped the so-called fiscal cliff.
The rally seemed to have no end in sight until Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Capitol Hill this week the central bank could soon unwind an $85 billion per month stimulus program.
The markets did not go down in flames, but gains sputtered. The People's Bank of China sent a similar message, saying its financial system had enough cash to weather rising interest rates, which sent stocks in Shanghai lower until a bank official said the central bank would monitor and guide interest rates if necessary. U.S. Fed officials, similarly, attempted to calm U.S. markets this week, saying the Fed would not make changes if the economy wasn't strong enough to handle it.
With the quarter now on the books, the New York Stock Exchange Friday saw 1,775 stocks advance and 1,283 decline on a volume of 2.5 billion shares traded.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended the quarter with a gain of 463.77 points, 3.51 percent, to 13,677.32.
Britain's FTSE 100 index dropped 0.45 percent, or 27.93 points to 6,215.47.
The 10-year treasury note fell 5/32 to yield 2.492 percent.
On currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3011. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 99.14 yen.
Gold, particularly vulnerable to a Fed policy shift, regained $23.10 or 1.91 percent to $1,234.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex division.
In after-hours trading, crude oil prices dropped 63 cents to $96.42 per barrel on the York Mercantile Exchange.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, September corn dropped 24 1/4 cents at $5.48, November soybeans shed 21 1/4 cents to $12.54 and wheat for September contracts shed 17 1/2 cents to $6.56 1/4.
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