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GLOBAL-MARKETS-Stocks bide time ahead of US data triple-whammy

Credit: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

By Amanda Cooper

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Global shares held near record highs on Thursday, while the dollar headed for its first weekly gain in a month, ahead of a trio of U.S. data releases that has the potential to shift the outlook for interest rates.

U.S. consumer inflation data earlier this week showed price pressures heated up more quickly than expected in February.

With the next Federal Reserve meeting less than a week away, investors have stuck to the view that the central bank will still cut rates around three times this year.

The Bank of Japan also meets next week. Officials including Governor Kazuo Ueda have sought to temper expectations of an imminent shift out of negative interest rates, which has set the yen on course for its worst weekly performance in a month.

The MSCI All-World index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.1% at 776, having hit a record high of 778.13 last week.

Investors on Thursday will get a look at U.S. wholesale inflation, consumer spending and weekly jobless claims, all of which could offer insight into the Fed's three key areas of focus - growth, price pressures and the labour market.

"The market needs the current story to continue, and the current story is one of a relative soft landing, which is an acceptable level of economic activity that is non-inflationary," said Samy Chaar, chief economist at Lombard Odier.

"What has been holding the global economy together has been the health of the U.S. consumer, and you don’t want to be in an environment where there are some weak signs in the labour market and therefore in consumption patterns and you start to get on the weak side of core growth, so that is something we’ll be monitoring," he said.

In addition to retail sales figures, which last month missed expectations, producer price data, which influences the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, and initial weekly jobless claims are also due.

"With payroll growth still solid and inflation proving to be a bit stickier recently, we suspect the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) will still be seeking greater confidence at the end of its meeting next week that inflation is headed back to 2% on a durable basis," economists at Wells Fargo said in a client note.

PERKY TECH

S&P 500 ESc1 and Nasdaq NQc1 futures rose 0.3% and 0.4%, respectively, with technology stocks likely to be in focus later after Apple AAPL.O supplier Foxconn 2317.TW offered an upbeat outlook for 2024, having beaten profit forecasts in the fourth quarter.

In Europe, the STOXX 600 <.STOXX> rose 0.34%.

The dollar =USD, meanwhile, edged up 0.1% to 102.84, and headed for its first weekly gain in a month, having pulled above its recent lows.

The euro > eased 0.1% to $1.094 but remained in sight of two-month highs, while the yen steadied, leaving the dollar unchanged on the day at 147.73, but still on track for a 0.5% rise against the Japanese currency, its largest weekly gain in a month.

Investors have been increasingly pricing in the chance of a change in policy this month, particularly after news of bumper pay rises from some of Japan's biggest names at this year's annual wage negotiations.

Ueda earlier this week noted that wage growth was crucial to determining the timing of any change in monetary policy, but that the economy was showing some signs of weakness.

A preliminary survey on big firms' wage talks is due on Friday. BOJ policymakers have said the talks are key to determining the timing of the central bank's stimulus exit.

In commodities, Brent LCOc1 rose 0.7% to $84.64 a barrel.

The International Energy Agency on Thursdayraised its forecast for demand growth in 2024, but said that a slowing global economy would act as a headwind to oil consumption.

World FX rates YTD http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

Global asset performance http://tmsnrt.rs/2yaDPgn

Asian stock markets https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4

(Additional reporting by Rae Wee in Singapore; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Bernadette Baum and Gareth Jones)

((Rae.Wee@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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