European stocks mixed; investors on inflation data watch

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European stocks mixed; investors on inflation data watch - European stock markets traded in a mixed fashion Wednesday, but trading ranges remained tight as investors warily awaited new inflation tests later in the week.

At 03:05 ET (08:05 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.1% higher, the CAC 40 in France traded up 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 in the U.K. dropped 0.2%.

Calm ahead of key inflation data

A degree of calm has settled over equity markets around the globe, and Europe is no exception, as investors await next inflation data which will offer clues on closely watched rate outlooks in the U.S. and Europe. 

The Eurozone is set to release its consumer price index for February on Friday, while reports from Germany, France and Spain are due on Thursday, ahead of the main release.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Federal Reserve's favoured core measure of personal consumption expenditures is due on Thursday, and is forecast to rise 0.4% on the month in January.

Fed officials have cautioned against expecting early rate cuts as inflation remains sticky, while recent economic data releases have indicated that the U.S. economy remains robust. This has prompted investors to push back bets on Fed rate cuts to later in the year. 

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand offered up a surprise earlier in the day, as although the central bank held rates steady at 5.5% it also trimmed its projected policy path for future rates.

Reckitt Benckiser catches a cold

In the corporate sector, Reckitt Benckiser (LON: RKT ) stock fell 8% after the consumer goods giant missed fourth-quarter like-for-like net sales expectations, citing declines in sales of cold and flu season products.

Aston Martin (LON: AML ) stock rose 6% after the luxury car manufacturer’s annual losses more than halved in 2023, coming in smaller than market expectations, after selling prices reached record levels.

Vodafone (NASDAQ: VOD ) stock rose 2% after the U.K. telecoms giant said it is now in exclusive discussions with Swisscom about a cash sale of its Italian arm.

Crude drops after hefty API build 

Oil prices fell Wednesday following a hefty rise in U.S. crude inventories, suggesting the important U.S. market remains well-supplied while consumption is sluggish.

By 03:05 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% lower at $78.44 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.5% to $82.22 a barrel. 

Data from the American Petroleum Institute, released on Tuesday, showed U.S. crude oil inventories grew by 8.4 million barrels in the week to Feb. 22, much more than analyst expectations for a build of 1.8 million barrels.

The official inventory data are due later in the day, and have somewhat diverged from the API data in recent weeks. 

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.4% to $2,036.75/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% lower at 1.0821.


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