* April consumer prices record biggest gain in 3 years
* Home Depot falls; biggest drag on Dow
* LendingClub touches record low after DOJ probe
* Indexes down: Dow 0.31 pct, S&P 0.28 pct, Nasdaq 0.31 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan and Tanya Agrawal
May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks slipped on Tuesday as upbeat consumer price data pointed to a steady build-up in inflation, boosting chances of an interest rate hike later this year.
The Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent last month, the largest gain since February 2013, after rising 0.1 percent in March. That took the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 1.1 percent from 0.9 percent in March.
“This morning the economic news was generally favorable suggesting that ... the U.S. economy has improved to levels warranting something other that crises-level rates,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
“However, equities are generally expected to trend sideways for about a month or so since June will be a pivotal month with a bias towards caution.”
Investors are closely watching data to assess when the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. While some Fed officials have suggested two hikes this year, traders are pricing in only one hike at the end of the year.
While the labor market has gained strength, inflation has stubbornly remained below the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Financial markets do not expect the Fed to hike rates again before September, given sluggish growth at the beginning of the year.
U.S. housing starts rose more than expected in April, data showed on Tuesday, supporting views that the economy was regaining momentum early in the second quarter.
At 11:06 a.m. ET (1506 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 55 points, or 0.31 percent, at 17,655.71, the S&P 500 was down 5.69 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,060.97 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.96 points, or 0.31 percent, at 4,760.50.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the consumer staples index’s 1.22 percent fall leading the decliners.
Home Depot’s shares, which have gained 16 percent in the past year, slipped 1.6 percent despite the home improvement company raising its full-year forecasts. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Off-price retailer TJX Cos Inc was up 1.7 percent at $76.50, after the company’s quarterly sales rose about 10 percent.
LendingClub fell 10.4 percent to $3.53 after the Department of Justice launched a probe into the company.
Pandora jumped 7.3 percent to $10.71 after activist hedge fund Corvex Management disclosed a stake and urged the company to sell itself.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,576 to 1,262. On the Nasdaq, 1,317 issues fell and 1,242 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 7 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 43 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)