* Dow component Wal-Mart falls after results
* Global markets rally on ECB comments
* Housing starts jump to 7.5 yr high
* Futures up: Dow 51 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 16.75 pts (Adds comment, updates prices)
By Sweta Singh
May 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock were set to open higher on Tuesday after the European Central Bank suggested it would speed up bond buying, and investors shrugged off weak earnings from Wal-Mart.
Futures held on to their gains after data showed U.S. housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April and permits soared, offering hope for an economy struggling to regain momentum.
The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 ended at record highs on Monday as weak economic data eased concerns of an early move by the Federal Reserve to raise rates.
“The ECB’s announcement to front-load its asset buying program certainly sparked the European markets and that’s spilling over into the U.S. markets,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 5 points and their fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a higher open.
Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 51 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 16.75 points.
Markets are also being pushed higher by the fact that there was nowhere else to invest, Cardillo said.
Wal-Mart shares fell 2.09 percent in premarket trading to $78.25 after the company reported lower-than-expected U.S. same-store sales growth.
Apple rose 0.43 percent to $130.75, a day after investor Carl Icahn said the stock was “still dramatically undervalued”.
Home Depot rose 1.19 percent to $115.69 after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
TJX Cos rose 4.8 percent to $70.50 after it reported a 6 percent rise in quarterly sales.
Urban Outfitters was down 14.51 percent at $34.81 after it reported quarterly sales that fell short of market estimates.
Autodesk and TJX Cos report quarterly results later on Tuesday.
JPMorgan fell 0.11 percent to $66.35 ahead of the company’s annual meeting in Detroit. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)