US STOCKS-Wall St lower as strong data raises chances of rate hike
* April consumer prices record biggest gain in 3 years
* Home Depot falls; biggest drag on Dow, S&P
* Indexes down: Dow 0.56 pct, S&P 0.51 pct, Nasdaq 0.57 pct (Adds details, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan and Tanya Agrawal
May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were lower in early afternoon trading 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.
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.
The Fed could still raise rates two or three times this year, San Francisco Fed president John Williams and Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart, both non-voting members, said in a joint appearance in Washington on Tuesday. Continuación...