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US: Dow, S&P 500 slip as Walmart earnings disappoint


[NEW YORK] The Dow and S&P 500 eased off record highs in early trade on Tuesday, as strong US housing data was offset by disappointing Walmart earnings.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 18,295.62, down 3.26 points (0.02 per cent). The S&P 500 was at 2,129.02, down 0.18 (0.01 per cent) The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index meanwhile added 3.63 (0.07 per cent) at 5,082.07.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed at records on Monday.

US housing starts rose 20.2 per cent in April from March to an annual rate of 1,135,000 units, the best level for new home construction since November 2007.

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But Dow member Wal-Mart Stores fell 3.4 per cent after reporting a seven per cent decline to US$3.3 billion in earnings for the quarter ending April 30. The results translated into US$1.03 per share, a penny shy of analyst expectations.

Home Depot, another Dow member, rose 0.5 per cent after first-quarter net income jumped 14.5 per cent to US$1.6 billion. The home improvement retailer lifted its profit forecast after comparable sales surged 6.1 per cent in the quarter.