LONDON (AP) -- European and U.S. stocks dipped Tuesday as weak American housing data dampened optimism from strong corporate earnings reports.
"The inventory of existing homes for sale remains high and the recession's impact on jobs and confidence along with tight lending conditions have all contributed to the weak fundamentals for housing," said Michael Carey, economist with Calyon in New York.
Also disappointing market hopes was a drop in U.S. producer prices, which suggests demand is not strong enough yet to create inflationary pressures.
The data dampened the good mood created by corporate earnings reports. Technology bellwethers Apple Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. beat analyst estimates handily on Monday.
Germany's DAX closed down 0.7 percent at 5,811.77, Britain's FTSE 100 was 0.7 percent lower at 5,243.40 and France's CAC-40 lost 0.5 percent at 3,871.45.
In midday trading in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.7 percent to 10,021.83 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.8 percent to 1,089.34. Most Asian indexes closed higher.
A 0.5 percent gain in U.S. housing starts in September was only a quarter of the 2.0 percent rise expected by many analysts, reminding investors that recovery in the world's largest economy will be only gradual.
On Tuesday, more good news came from Caterpillar Inc., which sounded confident about its outlook despite a drop in profits. Shares in the company were up as much as 5 percent after it said the latest quarter was its low point in the recession and raised its profit outlook for 2009.
Chemicals maker DuPont and drugs maker Pfizer both said they boosted earnings by cutting costs. Looking ahead, investors will be waiting for results from Internet company Yahoo Inc. later in the day.
Sentiment in Europe was weakened somewhat by the announcement by Qatar Holding that it was selling 379.2 million shares in Barclays, worth more than $2 billion.
Barclays shares were down 5 percent, while shares in J. Sainsbury PLC rose 5 percent on speculation Qatar may reinvest the cash in the supermarket chain.
Elsewhere, Adecco shares were down 5 percent after it announced it would spend $1.17 billion to buy Florida-based MPS Group Inc., one of the largest U.S. temporary staffing agencies. Analysts said the price seemed a bit steep.
The strengthening euro remained close to breaking through the $1.50 level. It traded at $1.4935, down somewhat from $1.4973 in New York Monday night. The dollar rose to 90.72 yen from 90.62 yen.
The weaker dollar has pushed oil prices up for several weeks, nudging it above $80 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since last year. Being priced in dollars, commodities become cheaper -- and more attractive -- to international investors as the U.S. currency weakens.
Benchmark crude for November delivery hit $80.05 a barrel before falling back to trade 80 cents lower at $78.81. The contract rose $1.08 overnight.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.0 percent to 10,336.844, and Hong Kong's index rose 0.8 percent to 22,384.96.
South Korea's main index added 0.6 percent, China's Shanghai's benchmark climbed 1.5 percent and Australia's index advanced 1.1 percent. However, markets in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand fell modestly.
Among this year's best performers, Asian indexes have been pushing higher as the weakening dollar and immense liquidity lead foreign investors to channel funds into the region.
Asia could see a "gold rush" toward the end of the year as investors who missed out on part of this year's run-up shift more money here, predicted Clive McDonnell, Singapore-based head of Asia strategy at BNP Paribas Securities.
"A lot of international funds have been underweight Asia and that has hurt them," McDonnell said. "As we head into the fourth quarter, the pressure is on to catch up."