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Europe close: Stocks end mixed ahead of key inflation data

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Monday 26 Feb 2024

Europe close: Stocks end mixed ahead of key inflation data

(Sharecast News) - European stocks ended the Monday session in mixed fashion with investors in a holding pattern ahead of the end of the month.
They were also waiting on key inflation readings due out at the end of the week on either side of the Pond.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.37% at 495.43.

Germany's Dax 30 and Spain's Ibex 35 were marginally higher but indices in France and Italy gave back around half a percentage point each.

The euro, longer-term eurozone government bond yields and crude oil futures were all higher.

Analysts at Barclays and Citi laid out opposing views on the euro.

On the positive side of the ledger, the latter said that on a tactical basis the U.S. exceptionalism story was "ripe" for a pause.

The US Personal Consumption Expenditures price index - the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation - was due out out on Thursday.

"A hotter than expected number could well put the cat among the pigeons, as was the case recently when a strong CPI number sparked a sell-off in equities," said Interactive Investor head of markets Richard Hunter.

"The latest reading will also give some clues as to whether inflation is remaining sticky as some had feared, especially given a service sector release on Friday which revealed that input prices had risen to a high not seen in almost a year."

A preliminary report on euro area inflation, but for the month of February, was due out on Friday.

As an aside, equity strategists at J.P.Morgan were telling clients that whilst bulls were largely expecting company profits to accelerate, "the earnings reality might turn out to be the opposite as we move through the year".

In equity news, shares in British housebuilding stocks were all lower on the back of the probe from the Competition and Markets Authority. Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey were among those affected.

Zealand Pharma was up 36% after an experimental drug it is developing with Boehringer Ingelheim yielded "groundbreaking" mid-stage trial results in the treatment of fatty liver.

Bank of Ireland slumped 11% on a weaker-than-expected outlook, despite annual pre-tax profit rising by 92% in 2023 to just under €2bn (£1.7bn).

Shares in Bunzl fell as the distribution specialist Bunzl said it expected a slight fall in operating margin this year after posting a 10% rise in annual profits for 2023.

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