* Dollar retreats from gains against euro and yen
* Equity markets decline on soft housing, labor data
* Bond prices rise on data, but Brent oil falls
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - Global equity markets faltered and the dollar fell against the euro on Thursday after reports on U.S. housing, labor and regional business conditions pointed to weakness in the economy.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits climbed last week at the fastest pace in six months, the Labor Department said, confounding analysts’ expectations for a more modest increase.
A separate report from the Commerce Debarment showed ground-breaking for new U.S. homes plummeted more than expected in April, while the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its index of business conditions in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region fell last month.
The data fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve, amid new data showing tame inflation, will maintain a bond-buying program to bolster economic growth.
“The dollar was on an uptrend headed into today’s number, mostly due to an optimistic view of the U.S. economy,” said Vassili Serebriakov, FX strategist at BNP Paribas in New York.
“The Fed has fallen short of its mandate on jobs and inflation, so the data highlights the need for further accommodation,” he said.
The euro rose 0.16 percent against the dollar to trade near $1.2906.
Major equity indices were lower, with the exception of the tech-heavy Nasdaq index.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 21.37 points, or 0.14 percent, at 15,254.32. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 3.16 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,655.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.38 points, or 0.13 percent, at 3,475.99.
MSCI’s world equity index was down 0.02 percent, while the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.07 percent at 1,244.75.
U.S. Treasuries prices advanced after the U.S. data raised worries about the economy and underscored the absence of price pressures.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 17/32 in price to yield 1.8809 percent.
Brent oil futures fell below $104 a barrel, with the soft U.S. economic data adding to a bearish outlook on demand.
Brent fell 23 cents to $103.45 a barrel, while U.S. oil rose 8 cents to $94.38.