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European stocks steady, dollar up tracking rates outlook

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Traders are awaiting the release this week of minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting./AFP
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Feb 20, 2023 - 01:03 PM

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Europe’s main stock markets steadied Monday after record highs for London and Paris last week as investors bet on prospects for a brighter economy despite lingering recession risks caused by high inflation.

The dollar gained against main rivals on the likelihood of more US rate hikes, analysts said, while oil prices climbed.

In earlier Asian trading, Shanghai jumped more than two percent. Banking giant Goldman Sachs said it saw mainland Chinese stocks surging this year as the country reopens after zero-Covid.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 index “was holding its position above 8,000 (points) on a day somewhat lacking in catalysts thanks to US markets taking a break for the President’s Day holiday”, noted AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

The benchmark index last week went above 8,000 points for the first time in history, shortly before the CAC 40 also hit a record high.

Investors are awaiting minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting for clues on the size of further hikes to US interest rates.

Some Fed members have said they were open to a 50 basis-point hike at the next gathering to further tame inflation, which remains elevated around the world.

Sweden’s price increases tempered slightly in January but inflation remained in the double digits at 11.7 percent on soaring food prices that have offset sliding energy costs, official data showed Monday.

Stubbornly-high inflation has renewed concerns that the United States and other economies could tip into recession this year, with commentators warning that company earnings were also on course to take a hit.

At the same time, “the equity market… seems sanguine about the rates outlook, seemingly taking more signal from the better-than-expected macro data”, said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland.

Data last week showed inflation cooling also in the United States and Britain.

Key figures around 1200 GMT 

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 8,006.38 points

Frankfurt – DAX: FLAT at 15,483.64

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,339.35

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 4,275.13

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 27,531.94 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.8 percent at 20,886.96 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 2.1 percent at 3,290.34 (close)

New York – Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 33,826.69 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0688 from $1.0697 on Friday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2034 from $1.2045

Euro/pound: UNCHANGED 88.79 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 134.96 yen from 134.17 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.7 percent at $83.59 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.5 percent at $76.75 per barrel

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