US STOCKS-S&P 500 posts best first half since 1998

Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:13pm EDT
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* S&P 500 ends June lower, but positive for quarter

* Accenture and BlackBerry both slide after results

* Dow down 0.8 pct, S&P 500 off 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.04 pct

By Alison Griswold

NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended Friday's session with its strongest first half of any year since 1998 after reaching record highs in May on a rally underpinned by the Federal Reserve's massive monetary stimulus.

While the S&P 500 closed down for the month of June on concerns that the Fed might begin reducing its bond-buying program, the benchmark index ended the second quarter with a gain - marking its first positive second quarter in four years. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq also dipped in June, but rose in the second quarter.

"I think the momentum that was established at the end of the first quarter kind of gave us a phenomenal start," said Randy Billhardt, head of capital markets at MLV & Co. in New York.

"The low interest-rate environment has really been the foundation of the stock market performance for this second quarter."

The Dow and the S&P 500 fell in Friday's volatile session, ending three straight days of gains. At the closing bell, the Nasdaq had eked out a tiny gain. Stocks opened lower on weakness in technology shares, then fluctuated between steep losses and moderate gains for much of the day.   Continued...