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Global stocks dip as volatile first quarter nears end

BEIJING, China – Global stock markets mostly fell on Thursday as investors prepared to mark the end of an exceptionally volatile first quarter to the year.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC-40 was off 1.1 per cent at 4,399.59 and Germany’s DAX retreated 0.7 per cent to 9,981.52. London’s FTSE 100 shed 0.5 per cent to 6,173.50. On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index were down almost 0.1 per cent each.

ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 per cent to 16,758.67 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.1 per cent to 20,776.70. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent to 1,995.85 and Singapore, Bangkok and Manila also declined. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.1 per cent to 3,003.92 and India’s Sensex gained 0.3 per cent to 25,405.28.

FIRST QUARTER: Thursday is the last trading day of the first quarter, which saw stocks slide over a range of concerns — chiefly China’s slowdown and a plunge in oil prices — before recovering in recent weeks. Stocks were further bolstered this week when U.S. Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen affirmed plans to move slowly in raising rates. But the momentum seems to be fading as investors look to the rest of the year.

ANALYST’S QUOTE: “Global markets will probably still have to contend with more Fed tightening this year,” Julian Jessop of Capital Economics said in a report.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 13 cents to $38.19 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 4 cents on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 18 cents to $40.23 in London. It advanced 20 cents on Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged down to 112.30 yen from Wednesday’s 112.35 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1394 from $1.1335.