US STOCKS-Stocks mixed as Wall St eyes healthier economy
* Housing starts jump to 7.5-yr high
* Financials gain; energy shares down with oil prices
* Indexes: Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq down 0.1 pct (Updates to mid-afternoon, adds comment)
By Noel Randewich
May 19 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 wavered on Tuesday afternoon as Wall Street digested U.S. housing data that some saw as hopeful for an economy struggling to grow.
U.S. housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April and permits soared.
Some investors interpreted that as a promising sign that a slow economy may be gaining steam, instead of as a reason for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected.
"It continues to be this Goldilocks scenario of slow modest growth and low inflation," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
At 2:44 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 24.76 points, or 0.14 percent, to 18,323.64. Earlier it hit an all-time intraday high of 18,351.36. Continuación...