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European stocks edge higher; Volvo shines ahead of key U.S. inflation data

By Peter Nurse - European stock markets edged higher Wednesday in tight trading ranges with the focus firmly on the monthly U.S. inflation report, which could guide future Federal Reserve monetary policy.

At 03:45 ET (07:45 GMT), the DAX index in Germany traded 0.3% higher, the CAC 40 in France climbed 0.4%, and the FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.4%.

Sentiment is guarded Wednesday as investors await the release of the U.S. CPI index for March to gauge just how sticky prices are likely to be and thus the likely monetary response from the Federal Reserve.

The general perception is that the Fed is near the end of its aggressive rate-hiking cycle, but there may still be room for another increase in May, when the policymakers next get together.


Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker made this point on Tuesday, saying that he feels the Fed may soon be done raising interest rates while reiterating that the central bank is committed to bringing inflation down from its elevated levels.

There’s little in the way of major economic data due in Europe Wednesday, and thus stock markets are likely to trade in something of a holding pattern ahead of the U.S. inflation report.

This is expected to show the all-important core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.4% on a monthly basis and 5.6% year-over-year in March.

In corporate news, Volvo (ST:VOLVb) stock soared 8% after the Swedish truck maker reported a record first-quarter profit despite supply bottlenecks and cost inflation.

Mercedes Benz (ETR:MBGn) stock rose 0.4% after the German car manufacturer said its sales rose moderately in the first quarter of this year, boosted by electric vehicles and premium cars.

Oil prices edged higher Wednesday ahead of the release of the all-important U.S. inflation data as well as the U.S. government crude inventories.

Dollar weakness helped the crude benchmarks post gains of around 2% on Tuesday, even after the American Petroleum Institute, an industry body, reported crude stockpiles rose by about 380,000 barrels last week, against expectations for a small decline.

The U.S. government will release its stockpile data later this session.

By 03:45 ET, U.S. crude futures traded marginally higher at $81.66 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.1% to $85.78.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.5% to $2028.30/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.2% higher at 1.0927.

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