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TOKYO: People walk past an electronic board showing the rate of the Japanese yen versus the US dollar along a street in Tokyo. – AFP
TOKYO: People walk past an electronic board showing the rate of the Japanese yen versus the US dollar along a street in Tokyo. – AFP
Major stock markets mixed before US inflation data
‘A larger-than-expected move could cause fresh jitters and concern’

LONDON: Major stock markets traded mixed Thursday before the release of US inflation data that could present a clearer idea on when the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates as inflation cools. Traders reacted also to yet more earnings, with the Paris CAC 40 reaching a fresh intra-day high. Shares in Air France-KLM slumped nine percent after annual profit fell short of expectations as it fell into a final-quarter loss. The dollar was mixed against main rivals, while bitcoin rallied further to reach nearly $63,000. The yen jumped on rising expectations of a hike to Japanese interest rates, as other central banks look to reduce borrowing costs.

The US Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index—the Fed’s most-watched inflation indicator—“is expected to show a tick upwards” in data Thursday, noted Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“A larger-than-expected move could cause fresh jitters and concern that monetary easing will be pushed further into the distance.” Expectations for rate cuts have shifted to later this year after earlier data showed inflation still hot in the world’s biggest economy. The US reports also consumer and jobless figures Thursday. In Europe, data showed inflation eased further in France and Spain in February. Eurozone inflation figures are due Friday. Wall Street’s main indices retreated Wednesday, although losses on both the Dow and S&P 500 were modest.

Elsewhere on the corporate front, India’s Reliance Industries and Walt Disney have agreed to merge their Indian media businesses, creating an $8.5 billion entertainment giant in the world’s most populous nation. The two companies signed “binding definitive agreements” to form a joint venture that will combine the businesses of Reliance-backed Viacom18 and Star India, a joint statement by the firms said late Wednesday. – AFP

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