By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of major world equity markets inched higher to a record for a second straight day on Thursday, lifted by a round of global data, while a drop in the dollar helped boost U.S. bond prices.
MSCI's All-Country World index hit an intraday record of 444.94, although stocks on Wall Street dipped as the financial sector, down 0.1 percent, snapped a five-session winning streak and energy stocks slumped 1.4 percent.
In the United States, manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region surged to its highest in 33 years, housing data indicated a recovery in the sector was on track, and weekly jobless claims pointed to a labor market that continues to tighten.
Other data showed improvements in exports from Indonesia and Taiwan, and falling unemployment in Sweden and the Netherlands.
Still, U.S. equity indexes pulled back, with the benchmark S&P 500 snapping a seven-session winning streak, its longest winning streak in nearly four years.
"The fundamental view of investors has not changed. It’s merely profit-taking in the short term," said Jeff Kravetz, a Phoenix-based regional investment director of the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank.
"If we got a really big selloff in the market, we would view that as a buying opportunity."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.91 points, or 0.04 percent, to end at 20,619.77, the S&P 500 lost 2.03 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,347.22 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.54 points, or 0.08 percent, to 5,814.90.
MSCI's benchmark global equity index edged up 0.18 percent to 444.46. Europe's index of leading 300 stocks closed 0.4 percent lower.
The dollar weakened 0.7 percent against a basket of major currencies, retreating further from a one-month high on uncertainty about the timing of the next U.S. interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve.
The fall in the dollar helped bond prices rally, along with the upbeat economic data. Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were last up 14/32 in price to yield 2.4538 percent, down from 2.50 percent late on Wednesday.
"The 10-year can’t get through two-and-a-half (percent). It gets bought like crazy every time it gets close to two-and-a-half percent," said Stephen Massocca, chief investment officer at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.
Oil prices retreated from earlier highs despite the weakening of the greenback but held in a tight range as the market weighed swelling U.S. inventories against possible renewed efforts by major oil producers to reduce a price-sapping glut.
Brent settled down 0.2 percent at $55.65 after climbing as high as $56.24 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled 0.5 percent lower at $53.36 after touching a session high of $53.59.
Gold, up 0.7 percent to $1,240.90 an ounce, was the beneficiary of the weaker greenback along with political uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump's policies, and upcoming elections in several European Union countries.
Copper lost 1.1 percent to $6,000.15 a tonne after news China's overseas investment had weakened, and sentiment waned over demand in the world's top copper user.
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)