Equities gain, euro slumps as ECB eyes faster bond buys
By Michael Connor
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. and European equities rose to trade near record highs on Tuesday, and the euro tumbled on signals the European Central Bank may accelerate its 1 trillion euro bond-buying program over the next two months.
The dollar gained 1.5 percent against the euro and was broadly ahead for a second day, while U.S. Treasuries prices fell after data showed that U.S. housing starts in April rose to the highest in nearly 7-1/2 years.
Oil prices slumped more than 3 percent, partly because of the dollar rally.
Wall Street's Dow Industrials index closed at an all-time high, though other major U.S. stock indexes mostly eased in choppy trading, unsettled by disappointing Wal-Mart results and fears the housing data might encourage Federal Reserve policymakers to move sooner on interest-rate hikes.
"There really is a lot of fear about the threat of higher interest rates," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "It's not an 'if' story. It's a 'when' story."
Wal-Mart's (WMT.N: Quote) shares ended down 4.4 percent at $76.43. The retailer was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500 after reporting slower-than-expected U.S. same-store sales growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 13.51 points, or 0.07 percent, to end at a record 18,312.39.
The S&P hit a record intraday high of 2,133.02 before ending down 1.37 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,127.83. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 8.41 points, or 0.17 percent, to 5,070.03. Continued...