* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
* Global Assets in 2017 reut.rs/2ne9sjH
* Wall Street dips, dollar flat
* MSCI world index on track for more than 6 pct gain for
* Oil has worst quarter since 2015
(Updates prices, adds oil market closes)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, March 31 An index of world stocks
dipped on Friday as investors locked in a quarterly gain that
has given equities their best start to a year since 2012, while
oil prices finished their worst quarter since 2015.
U.S. stock indexes were mostly lower in afternoon trading.
The S&P 500 was on track to gain about 6 percent for the first
quarter, its biggest quarterly gain since 2013.
Emerging market equities fell the most, with the MSCI
emerging markets index down 0.9 percent on Friday.
MSCI's EM stocks index is up 12.5 percent on a dollar-adjusted
Equities saw profit-taking as traders squared up for the
quarter. There was remaining nervousness over South Africa's
sacking of its respected finance minister, which sent the rand
World stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index
were down 0.3 percent on Friday but up 6.6
percent for the quarter so far.
U.S. stock investors are now looking to the upcoming
quarterly earnings season to justify pricy valuations.
The S&P 500 index is trading at about 18 times earnings
estimates for the next 12 months, compared to its long-term
average of 15.
"Valuations are as stretched as they ever get," said Bruce
Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co in
Nashville. "Certainly that's cause for concern if earnings don't
grow the way they are anticipated to grow."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 54.43
points, or 0.26 percent, to 20,674.06, the S&P 500 had
lost 2.85 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,365.21 and the Nasdaq
Composite had added 3.00 points, or 0.05 percent, to
In commondities, U.S. oil prices ended slightly higher on
the day but had their worst quarterly decline since 2015.
Brent oil settled down 13 cents at $52.83, while
U.S. crude futures rose 25 cents to settle at $50.60.
BOND YIELDS SLIP
U.S. Treasury debt yields were mostly lower after New York
Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley said the central
bank was not in a huge rush to tighten monetary policy since the
economy is not overheating.
Ten-year notes were up 2/32 in price to yield
2.410 percent, compared with 2.418 percent on Thursday.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Dudley, a permanent voter
on the Federal Open Market Committee and a known supporter of
low interest rates, said a couple more rate increases in 2017
seem reasonable but that there is no great urgency.
The dollar index was near flat after Dudley's
comments and following uninspiring data on the U.S. economy.
Over the quarter the greenback has fallen 1.8 percent, its
worst showing in a year, on doubts that U.S. President Donald
Trump was not prioritizing - and did not have the necessary
power to push through Congress - the economic reforms that had
driven the dollar to 14-year highs at the start of the year.
Next week promises to be an interesting start to the second
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Florida
and the U.S. president has set the tone for a tense few days by
tweeting that Washington could no longer tolerate massive trade
deficits and job losses.
For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock
markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Marc
Jones in London; Editing by Alistair Bell and Chizu Nomiyama)