GLOBAL MARKETS-World equity indexes up on U.S. data, ECB hopes; gold slumps

Tue May 27, 2014 12:37pm EDT

* Wall St edges up; S&P 500 at new record

* Euro pressured after upbeat U.S. economic data

* Gold slumps to 3-1/2 month low (Updates prices, adds details)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, May 27 (Reuters) - World stock markets edged up while the euro softened against the dollar and yen on Tuesday following strong U.S. economic data and on expectations of more rate cuts from the European Central Bank.

A slew of stronger-than-expected data pressured safe-haven assets, including gold, which slipped 2 percent to a 3-1/2 month low. Platinum also fell after South Africa's mining minister pledged to mediate in a long-running strike.

Wall Street's S&P 500 hit a record high, led by gains in utility stocks. Data showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly rose in April while U.S. single-family home prices also rose in March and beat expectations.

Boosting appetite for risky assets, ECB chief Mario Draghi on Monday bolstered views that the bank will cut euro zone interest rates again next week. Other policymakers drove home the message on Tuesday.

The ECB has discussed "a situation where inflation rates are so low that there is a danger of economic growth being held back," Austrian ECB board member Ewald Nowotny said. "We will discuss which measures we can take here."

"June has been signaled as the point in time when Draghi has to do something," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York. "We've had some false starts with the ECB and we hope this is not another one."

The day's gains helped MSCI's all-world share index move closer to its 2007 record high. The index was up 0.1 percent.

Leading European markets higher, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent as a flurry of merger activity provided additional support. Intercontinental Hotels Group, buoyed by British media reports of bid interest from the United States, jumped 4.5 percent and was the top performer on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300, which was up 0.2 percent.

However, investors kept a wary eye on Ukraine, which launched air strikes and a paratroop assault against pro-Russian rebels who seized an airport on Monday.

The escalation was tempered by a decisive win for billionaire Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine's weekend presidential election, which many hope will stabilize the situation.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 50.89 points, or 0.31 percent, at 16,657.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.96 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,908.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 33.50 points, or 0.80 percent, at 4,219.31.

GOLD SLUMPS

Spot gold fell 2 percent to its lowest since Feb. 10 at $1,265.76 an ounce in early trade and was down 1.9 percent at $1,268.10 an ounce, heading for its worst daily loss in two months. U.S. gold futures dropped 1.8 percent to $1,268.50 an ounce.

Gold has struggled to break consistently above the $1,300-per-ounce level for the past two weeks, indicating a lack of conviction by investors and speculators, analysts said.

Platinum fell 0.6 percent to $1,460.74 an ounce after South Africa's mining minister pledged to mediate in a strike now in its fifth month. The metal reached its highest since September at $1,493.90 last week.

Global oil prices also fell as traders took profits after a long holiday weekend.

Brent was down 42 cents at $109.90 a barrel and U.S. light crude oil was down 45 cents at $103.90.

The euro steadily lost ground against the greenback as investors returned from long holiday weekends and encountered better-than-expected economic data.

In New York trade, the euro fell 0.15 percent to $1.3625 , plumbing Monday's three-month low of $1.3614. Against the yen, the euro softened 0.14 percent to 138.07.

The dollar index reversed course and gained ground against a basket of currencies to rise 0.03 percent.

U.S. Treasury prices inched lower, with the 30-year Treasury bonds down 2/32 in price to yield 3.400 percent, compared with 3.397 percent on Friday. Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were unchanged in price to yield 2.532 percent.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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