London - Global shares steadied on Friday after hitting record highs as investors positioned cautiously on the last trading day of the month, with the market's focus on next week's European Central Bank policy meeting.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 countries, was down 0.04 percent after scaling a new lifetime high earlier in the session as investors positioned to shield themselves from any disappointment from the ECB, which is widely expected to ease policy significantly on June 5.
“The market will hold at current levels until the ECB meeting next week. Should the ECB disappoint the market, then I expect a negative reaction and equities will run into a consolidation that could hold in the summer months,” Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich, said.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.1 percent, with BNP Paribas leading the index lower after a report saying the US Justice Department was pushing the French bank to pay more than $10 billion to resolve a criminal probe.
BNP shares fell 4.9 percent.
Germany's DAX slightly outpaced the broader market after figures showed on Friday that German year-on-year retail sales grew at their strongest rate in April since June 2012 as Easter fell later this year than last.
In the European bond market, benchmark Bunds were slightly lower, tracking Treasuries.
Ten-year US debt yielded 2.477 percent, up from the US close of 2.447 percent but still close to its lowest levels since last June, touched this week as markets increased bets that the Federal Reserve will not begin raising interest rates any time soon.
The euro was steady at $1.3605, not far from Thursday's three-month low of $1.3586.
The dollar index, which tracks the currency against a basket of six major rivals, eased slightly to 80.462. - Reuters