By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets traded in a muted fashion Tuesday ahead of key U.S. inflation numbers, with the U.K. underperforming after the release of patchy growth data.
Britain’s economy grew by 0.4% in February from January as companies prepared for the lifting of a third coronavirus lockdown, below the expected growth of 0.6%.
Britain’s economy shrank by almost 10% last year, its biggest slump in more than three centuries and a more severe fall than in most European economies, as the country’s huge services sector was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.K. numbers followed robust trade data out of China, which were boosted by weak comparative numbers from a year ago.
The closely-watched German ZEW economic sentiment release is due later Tuesday, but most eyes will be on the release of the U.S. consumer price index for March, at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT). This is expected to show inflation increasing by 0.5% on the month, or 2.5% year-over-year, up from 1.7% in February.
Federal Reserve officials have said repeatedly that they are prepared to look through periods of inflation climbing above its 2% threshold without changing their accommodative policy stance, as they see these episodes as being temporary in nature.
However, the last time the annual headline CPI number was at 2.5% was in January 2020, before the Covid pandemic, and a figure significantly above this will certainly put the pressure on the Fed.
In corporate news, Givaudan (SIX:GIVN) stock rose 2.9% after the Swiss company confirmed its mid-term targets after like-for-like sales rose 7.7% in the first quarter, helped by strong demand for its fragrance and beauty products.
Dustin (ST:DUST) stock rose 5.7% after the Swedish IT solutions provider said it would buy software developer Centralpoint for 425 million euros ($505 million).
Hays (LON:HAYS) stock rose 3.6% after the U.K. recruitment firm said it expects to beat market forecasts for its 2021 operating profit on the back of a strong third quarter, while JD (NASDAQ:JD) Sports (LON:JD) stock rose 0.6% after the retailer released a positive outlook.
Oil prices edged higher, helped by the robust Chinese trade data, indicating continued economic recovery in the world’s largest crude importer.
Attention Tuesday will also be on U.S. crude oil supply data from the American Petroleum Institute, due later in the day, with EIA supply data set to follow a day later. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is also due to release its monthly report on the oil market.
U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $60.05 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.7% to $63.69.
European Stocks Mixed; U.K. Underperforms After Patchy Growth Data
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