GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares cruise towards fourth week of gains

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares cruise towards fourth week of gains

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 19, 2013 07:40 hrs

* European shares dip but head for fourth week of gains

* Stocks elsewhere in Asia mixed after Wall Street record high

* Japan upper house election on Sunday in focus, yen claws up

By Marc Jones

LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) - World stocks took a breather on Friday but were set for a fourth week of back-to-back gains following some forecast-busting U.S. earnings and assurances from the Federal Reserve about its plans for stimulus withdrawal.

Major currency and commodity markets were also subdued, with the dollar giving back Thursday's gains and the euro doing the opposite. The yen was pushed up by position-squaring ahead of elections in Japan on Sunday.

Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 share index edged down 0.3 percent as bourses opened, but was firmly on course for its first four-week run of uninterrupted gains since May, as was MSCI's 45-country all-world index.

Analysts say the rises have been fuelled this week by solid corporate earnings, especially in the United States, and by reassurance from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke over the U.S. central bank's easy monetary policy.

"A lot of cash has gone into the market over the last few months but people are now sitting back a bit," said Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.

Asian trading had been choppy, with profit-taking on Japan's Nikkei ahead of Upper House elections on Sunday matched by yen buying. Wall Street finished at another record high overnight, although disappointing Google and Microsoft results after the bell dampened the mood slightly.

In the debt market, German Bund futures were expected to remain in a tight range on Friday, having hit their highest level in six weeks in the previous session.

Euro zone periphery bonds were also expected to see a largely quiet day following gains on Thursday after the ECB loosened its lending rules, and after Portugal's centre-right government easily defeated a no-confidence vote.

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