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European shares listless as investors brace for inflation test

European shares listless as investors brace for inflation test

By Ankika Biswas

(Reuters) -Europe’s STOXX 600 struggled for direction on Monday, as investors geared up for this week’s key U.S. inflation prints and a slew of economic data from the euro zone that could test the benchmark index’s record-breaking run.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was unchanged as of 0820 GMT. Automobiles led sectoral gains after recent losses, while construction and materials was the worst hit.

The benchmark index hit a record high on Friday, logging its biggest weekly gain of 3% since late January, underpinned by strong corporate earnings. The STOXX 600 regained its momentum midway into May, after geopolitical tensions and monetary policy uncertainties saw it wilt in April.

All eyes will be on the U.S. producer and consumer prices inflation readings, due on Tuesday and Wednesday, which will further set the tone for the Federal Reserve’s anticipated rate cuts this year.

Back home, euro zone’s final inflation and flash first-quarter GDP in the latter half of the week will be scrutinized to gauge the interest rate path for the European Central Bank, which has indicated a June cut, flagged uncertainties around policy outlook beyond that, and stressed its independence from the Fed.

“There are reasons for the ECB to deliver a ‘hawkish’ cut in June and not send markets a message that rates will be cut aggressively this year,” Societe Generale analysts said.

“While risks stemming from the Middle East have not led to higher energy prices, there is increasing debate among ECB members over what a potential divergence between Fed and ECB policy could imply for the exchange rate and its impact on imported inflation.”

AP Moeller-Maersk jumped 7.1%, boosted by a rise in freight rates amid higher trade volumes and the Red Sea crisis.

Italian medical diagnostic group Diasorin rose for the second session, up 3.7% on the day, following Friday’s first-quarter earnings.

Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall advanced 8.2% after a first-quarter results beat and reiteration of its full-year profitability targets.

German consumer electronics Ceconomy climbed 2.2% after announcing full-year earnings above estimates.

Holcim lost 3.3% as the Swiss cement maker’s stock was trading ex-dividend.

Turbine and generator maker Siemens Energy lost 4.8% after jumping over 21% over the past three days encouraged by Wednesday’s upbeat earnings.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said this year’s “Choose France” event will result in $16.2 billion worth of foreign investments. Amazon will invest $1.3 billion and create 3,000 jobs and Microsoft will invest $4.3 billion.

France’s benchmark stock index, however, was down 0.1%.

(Reporting by Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Mrigank Dhaniwala)

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