The euro was given support from strong German data but investors remain wary owing to the uncertainty caused by Spain's Catalonia independence crisis

New York (AFP) - A strong forecast from retail behemoth Wal-Mart propelled the Dow to a fresh record Tuesday, while the Catalan political crisis in Spain weighed on European equity markets.

Wal-Mart Stores surged 4.5 percent after projecting fiscal 2019 sales would rise at or above three percent following a deeper push into e-commerce. The retail giant also announced a $20 billion share repurchase program.

Wal-Mart’s gain helped lift the Dow to a fresh record of 22,830.68, about 55 points above the record set last week.

“The risk-on appetite in America is still going strong as the major equity benchmarks keep setting fresh records,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

But equity markets fell in both Paris and Frankfurt, and Madrid tumbled 0.9 percent in anticipation of a speech by Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

The crisis has caused deep uncertainty for businesses in one of Spain’s wealthiest regions.

In his remarks, Puigdemont stepped back from making an immediate declaration of independence, calling for more time for talks with Madrid to resolve Spain’s worst political crisis in a generation.

Puigdemont said he had accepted “the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent republic” after the October 1 vote. But the 54-year-old asked the Catalan parliament to “suspend the effects of the independence declaration to initiate dialogue in the coming weeks.”

The central government fired back swiftly, with a spokesman rejecting what Madrid termed Catalonia’s “tacit” independence declaration.

“We believe that Puigdemont has failed to calm the business community in Catalonia, and we suspect many will fear that the region is heading for a perfect storm, led by a deepening exodus of Spanish and foreign companies from the region,” said a note from Raj Badiani, director of European Economics at IHS Markit.

Badiani does not expect a significant impact on Spanish growth in 2017, but “a more tangible impact” could surface in 2018 due to the uncertainty.

Among other markets, oil prices rose solidly on news that Saudi Arabia planned to cut exports in November.

British military equipment maker BAE Systems shed 0.3 percent to 616.5 pence after the British maker of defense equipment said it plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, mainly owing to weaker demand for Eurofighter Typhoon and Hawk fighter jets.

Procter & Gamble dipped 0.5 percent after the consumer products giant claimed a narrow victory in its quest to block activist investor Nelson Peltz from its board of directors. Citing the closeness of the vote, Peltz refused to concede defeat and said he would wait until final results are certified.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.3 percent at 22,830.68 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 2,550.64 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 6,587.25 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,538.27 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,949.25 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 5,363.65 (close)

Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 0.9 percent at 10,145.80

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,597.39

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 28,490.83 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,382.99 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 20,823.51 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1809 from $1.1741 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3205 from $1.3140

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.45 yen from 112.70 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 68 cents at $56.47 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.34 at $50.92 per barrel

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