While you were sleeping: Wall Street hits fresh records

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Wall Street rose, even as it gave up some of its earlier gains that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index hit fresh intraday record highs, amid optimism about the world's biggest economy.

While US retail sales grew less than expected last month, it did not dampen the outlook. Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, following an upwardly revised 1.5 percent increase in March. The gain in March was the largest in four years.

"Despite an overall seemingly weak April retail sales report, thanks to the pop in March, the second quarter is starting off at a higher level that is consistent with strong consumption in the quarter," Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, told Reuters.

With about an hour of trading left in the day in New York, the Dow advanced 0.16 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged 0.06 percent higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.19 percent.

Earlier in the session the Dow climbed as high as 16,735.51, an intraday record, while the S&P 500 touched 1,902.17, also an intraday record.

"Technically new highs are usually a bullish event, but we're not seeing news to really inspire people, so we're holding in here at these new highs," Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut, told Reuters

Shares in Microsoft and Merck rose, last up 1 percent and 0.9 percent respectively, leading the Dow higher. Shares of Home Depot and Cisco were the biggest decliners in the Dow, down 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.

Shares of Keurig Green Mountain jumped, last up 9.75 percent, after Coca-Cola lifted its stake in the company to 16 percent, becoming its largest shareholder.

"These incremental purchases demonstrate our continued belief that Keurig Green Mountain has substantial growth potential," Coke said in an emailed statement, Reuters reported.

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.3 percent gain from the previous close, as did France's CAC 40 and the UK's FTSE 100. Germany's DAX added 0.5 percent.

The euro fell, declining 0.4 percent against the greenback after a report showing a gauge of German investor confidence declined for a fifth consecutive month. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations dropped to 33.1 in May, down from 43.2 in April.

A strong euro and low inflation has been a concern in the euro zone, prompting European Central Bank President Mario Draghi last week to flag the potential of an interest rate cut in June.

"Interest-rate cuts are the most likely for the ECB, but we're not convinced it'll trigger a sustained downtrend for the euro," Brian Daingerfield, currency strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group's RBS Securities unit in Stamford, Connecticut, told Bloomberg News.

There also were reports that Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, would support more efforts by the ECB to bolster growth.

Among the biggest movers in Europe were Airbus and ThyssenKrupp, both of which saw their shares surge on reporting profits that exceeded expectations.

(BusinessDesk)


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