Red hot U.S. inflation print rattles stocks

LONDON — European markets pulled back on Friday after a hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation print and hawkish remarks from a Federal Reserve official cemented expectations of more aggressive interest rate hikes.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.9% in early trade, with travel and leisure stocks shedding 1.9% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.

U.S. inflation came in at an annual 7.5% in January, fresh data revealed on Thursday, far ahead of expectations and marking the highest year-on-year rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Risk sentiment was then further dampened when St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a member of the Fed’s rate-setting committee, acknowledged that the reading had rendered him “dramatically” more hawkish. Bullard said he’s now hoping for a full percentage point of interest rate rises in the first half of the year.

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Earnings reports continue to drive individual share price movement in Europe. British food and beverage ingredients company Tate & Lyle jumped more than 8% in early deals to lead the Stoxx 600 after posting strong quarterly results.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, German delivery firm Delivery Hero dropped another 9% after its 30% on Thursday, as investors balked at its 2022 guidance.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly lower on Friday, with the exception of Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Topix indexes, while U.S. futures pointed sharply lower in early pre-market trade, indicating another rocky session on Wall Street after Thursday’s sell-off.

On the data front, the British economy grew 7.5% in 2021, official figures revealed Friday, rebounding from its historic 9.4% plunge in 2020 when pandemic restrictions stifled activity.

German inflation came in at an annual 4.9% year-on-year in January.

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