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PARIS: European shares closed at a record high on Tuesday, led by automakers and banks, as traders stuck to bets on an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve in June following keenly awaited inflation data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up 1% after paring gains following the release of US consumer price data.

Headline prices increased solidly in February on higher costs for gasoline and shelter, though the rise in the annual core figure, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was the smallest since May 2021.

Based on the report, traders stood pat on bets that the Fed will begin its easing cycle in June.

Market participants could be drawing relief from the slight easing in core inflation, said Stuart Cole, chief economist at Equiti Capital.

The STOXX 600 has rallied to new heights in 2024 on expectations the European Central Bank will initiate rate cuts in June after recent slowdown in inflation in the euro zone.

Germany’s DAX index ended at a fresh record high after data confirmed domestic inflation eased in February to 2.7%.

“I think the ECB will be going first,” said Cole, referring to the timing of the first rate cut.

“But I am hesitant regarding the (Fed). They are so cautious about getting the inflation argument wrong again, they are naturally bent on being over-cautious.” French blue-chip shares also rose to an all-time peak, while UK’s FTSE 100 scaled its highest level since May 2023.

Europe’s automobile index jumped 2.4%, boosted by a 11.5% advance in Porsche as traders bought the stock following an initial lukewarm response to results from the German sportscar maker.

Rate-sensitive banking stocks climbed 1.9%, clocking their biggest daily percentage gain in five months.

Shares in Wacker Chemie climbed 5.7% after the chemicals maker forecast first-quarter outlook above market estimates, driven by a stronger order intake especially in silicone business.

British homebuilder Persimmon fell 3.7% after missing profit expectations and warning of subdued market conditions through 2024.

TAG Immobilien shares shed 3.1% after the landlord swung to a loss in 2023 during the German property crisis and suspended its dividend.

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