* Wall Street equities advance; S&P and Nasdaq at records
* Europe stocks close little changed after nearing highs
* U.S. crude tumbles more than 5 pct after OPEC meeting (Updates prices)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks scaled fresh highs on Thursday after strong earnings reports from retailers, outpacing European shares which closed little changed, while oil prices plunged after top oil producers extended output cuts for a shorter period than expected.
The U.S. S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes hit record highs, with the benchmark S&P index touching 2,417.72, after retailers such as PVH and Sears surged on strong results. The S&P consumer discretionary index was last up about 1 percent.
European shares struggled for direction, with investors hunting for fresh catalysts as a blistering earnings season that helped stocks surge to new highs nears its end.
“The lack of fear, the complacency is supporting the market,” said Jimmy Chang, chief investment strategist at Rockefeller & Co in New York.
Energy shares on both sides of the Atlantic tumbled, however, after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) disappointed some investors. The S&P energy sector was last down nearly 2 percent, while Europe’s STOXX 600 oil and gas index closed down 1.2 percent.
U.S. crude prices plummeted as much as 5.7 percent to $48.45 a barrel, their lowest level in a week after OPEC agreed to extend output cuts for nine more months, dousing hopes for deeper, longer cuts. U.S. crude prices settled down $2.46 at $48.90 a barrel, while Brent crude settled down $2.50 at $51.46 a barrel.
MSCI’s all-country world equity index was last up 1.88 points or 0.41 percent, at 464.81.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 71.38 points, or 0.34 percent, at 21,083.8. The S&P 500 was up 11.49 points, or 0.48 percent, at 2,415.88. The Nasdaq Composite added 45.62 points, or 0.74 percent, to 6,208.64.
Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.04 percent at 1,540.78.
The dollar was little changed against a basket of major currencies a day after Federal Reserve minutes that dialed down some expectations of the central bank hiking interest rates soon. Many investors and strategists expect Fed rate hikes to boost the dollar.
“The minutes sort of made it clear that the Fed wasn’t going to be reducing its balance sheet anytime real soon, and the response was negative for the dollar,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.
U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly on the doubts over whether the Fed would raise interest rates more than once by the end of 2017. Bond yields slipped into the lower end of this week’s tight trading range with the 10-year yield hovering around the 2.25 percent area.
Spot gold prices were last down 0.14 percent at $1,256.40 an ounce.
Additional reporting by Nigel Stephenson and Christopher Johnson in London, Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Hilary Russ and Richard Leong in New York and Howard Schneider in Washington; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski