GLOBAL MARKETS-Upbeat factory data buoys euro, Wall St drifts lower
* Wall St sags, European shares edge lower
* Germany, UK factory data extends upbeat data trend
* Australian dollar bounces as no further rate cuts signaled
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street drifted lower on Tuesday as investors found few reasons to buy stocks, but European shares and the euro were supported by data that showed a surge in factory output in Britain and Germany.
U.S. stocks pulled back further from the record high hit at the end of last week. With earnings season winding down, a dearth of domestic economic data and the focus on Federal Reserve policy, trading has been muted. Monday marked the lightest volume for a full session this year.
"We're in a post-earnings season environment, and it would take a pretty major catalyst to move us significantly higher from here," said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
"Still, that we've been drifting higher without any major pullback augurs that there's really support for the levels we're at now. The only thing that could really take us lower would have to be something unexpected."
European shares fared better, though they cut early gains to trade slightly lower. The strong growth at factories in Germany, Europe's largest economy, and in Britain, the euro zone's biggest trade partner, in June extended a run of recent upbeat data that points to an early end to the currency bloc's 18-month recession.
Still, analysts were quick to stress that the region was far from seeing the kind of recovery underway in the United States.
"We think that austerity as well as a financial system that is not willing to lend money to companies will still suppress growth for a longer time," said Ronald Doeswijk, chief strategist at fund managers Robecco.
The data put Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index on course for a seventh straight day of gains, but the index subsequently slipped 0.4 percent. World stocks fell 0.2 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 86.81 points, or 0.56 percent, at 15,525.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 8.04 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,699.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 20.37 points, or 0.55 percent, at 3,672.58.
The euro climbed as high as $1.3306 and last traded at $1.3292, up 0.3 percent on the day.
Germany said industrial orders at its factories surged by a surprisingly strong 3.8 percent in June, their largest monthly rise since October as contracts for big-ticket items jumped and euro zone demand rebounded.
Britain's manufacturers reported their biggest annual rise in overall industrial production in over two years, adding to growth already seen in service sector activity, the housing market and in retail sales.
"The broad-based improvement seems to suggest that the current improvement in activity has good foundations and further progress is likely in the coming months," said Annalisa Piazza, a senior economist at Newedge Strategy.
The main focus of the Asian session was the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision to cut interest rates by 25 basis points to a record low 2.5 percent and to refrain from any guidance on further policy moves.
The move had been widely expected and some traders were disappointed by the absence of any statement on more rate cuts, leaving the local dollar up 0.3 percent against the greenback at $0.8953.
"The bounce in the Aussie is unlikely to last," said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon. "The RBA has said it expects a further decline in the currency."
U.S. Treasuries prices slipped as investors pared their bond positions before a $32 billion auction of new three-year debt. Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were 5/32 lower in price to yield 2.657 percent.
Oil prices tumbled as supply disruptions eased, sending Brent Crude down 84 cents to $107.86, while U.S. crude dropped $1.03 to $105.53.
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