By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Susan Mathew
(Reuters) -European shares hovered just below all-time highs on Tuesday, little changed by U.S. inflation data that suggested the Federal Reserve’s accommodative policy stance would remain intact.
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up 0.1% and the export-heavy German stock index also rose that much after data showed China’s exports grew at a robust pace in March and import growth surged to its highest in four years.
Luxury and other consumer stocks led gains on the STOXX 600, followed by technology stocks.
The benchmark STOXX 600 has surged to record highs this month after coming under pressure in March from rising bond yields, as central banks globally maintained an accommodative monetary stance despite fears of a jump in inflation.
Data on Tuesday showed inflation in the United States rose more than expected, posting its biggest gain in more than 8-1/2 years in March as increased vaccinations and massive fiscal stimulus unleashed pent-up demand.
“But it hasn’t unnerved markets because we’ve heard a lot of soothing words from the U.S. Federal Reserve that any rise in inflation is temporary,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at City Index.
The STOXX 600 has also lagged a recovery in its U.S. counterpart due to a slow vaccination rollout and a new wave of coronavirus infections on the continent.
Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday said it would delay the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine in Europe and was reviewing cases of extremely rare blood clots in people after they received the shot.
“Any concern of slowing rollout expectations, especially after J&J, could hit sentiment,” Cincotta said.
Attention this week will also be on the start of the first-quarter corporate earnings season, with major U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc due to report on Wednesday.
European earnings will kick into higher gear later in April and analysts expect a 47.4% jump in earnings for STOXX 600 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Much of the support is likely to come from consumer cyclicals and industrial firms.
Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer JD Sports rose 3% as it forecast profit growth for this year and announced plans to ramp up warehouse capacity to fulfil online orders and minimise disruptions from Brexit.
Swedish IT solutions provider Dustin surged 17.4% after it said it would buy Centralpoint, a seller of hardware and software in the Benelux region, for 425 million euros ($505.6 million).
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and John Stonestreet)