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Fresh records for Nvidia, Nasdaq despite sluggish retail sales data

Jensen Huang, shown in Taipei earlier this month, ahead of Nvidia's rise to become the world's most valuable company (Sam Yeh)
Jensen Huang, shown in Taipei earlier this month, ahead of Nvidia's rise to become the world's most valuable company (Sam Yeh)

Nvidia edged out other tech giants Tuesday to become the world's most valuable publicly traded company, a rise that also helped lift the Nasdaq to a seventh straight record close.

Nvidia's feat came on an up day for most global equity markets in spite of lackluster economic data in the United States and Germany and lingering unease about upcoming political elections in France.

All three major US stock indices climbed, along with bourses in Paris, Frankfurt, London and Tokyo.

Nvidia, which has enjoyed a monumental ascent over the last 18 months amid enthusiasm over generative artificial intelligence, jumped 3.5 percent to garner a market capitalization of $3.349 trillion, placing it slightly ahead of Microsoft and Apple as the 12th company to become the largest in the S&P 500 since 1926, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

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"It appears to me that this is just the beginning of the AI boom," said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments.

The records on Wall Street came as traders weighed a US retail sales report for May that lagged expectations.

The largest monthly drop in sales was at gasoline stations, which recorded a 2.2 percent monthly decline, while sales at furniture and home furnishing stores also dropped from April.

While the report painted a disappointing picture of consumer demand, investors have hoped a slower economy will translate into an easing from the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

"This report could be just what investors and the Fed wanted to see -- another sign that demand is cooling off but not turning ice cold," said Bret Kenwell, US investment analyst at the trading platform eToro.

The figures are "a good thing for the Fed and those who are looking for rate cuts later this year", Kenwell said.

In Europe, Frankfurt and Paris extended Monday's advance after a sell-off last week fueled by the political uncertainty in Europe and London added 0.6 percent, with investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown surging 5 percent on a takeover proposal from private equity buyers worth 5.4 billion pounds ($6.8 billion).

Investors brushed aside data Tuesday showing that German investor confidence rose less than expected in June after Europe's top economy saw an uptick in inflation following months of decline.

The ZEW institute's closely watched economic expectations index edged up to 47.5 points from 47.1 points in May, below the 49.5 points expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Axel Rudolph, senior market analyst at the online trading platform IG, said the European gains came as "bargain hunters entered the fray, even though trading volumes are light ahead of the US Juneteenth holiday on Wednesday".

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.2 percent at 38,834.86 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 5,487.03 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP less than 0.1 percent at 17,862.23 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 8,191.29 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 7,628.80 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.4 percent at 18,131.97 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 4,915.47 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 38,482.11 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.1 percent at 17,915.55 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,030.25 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0743 from $1.0734 on Monday

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.50 pence from 84.64 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 157.85 yen from 157.74 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2711 from $1.2705

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.5 percent at $81.57 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 1.3 percent at $85.33 per barrel

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