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European stocks log gains of around 7% for the first quarter as inflation eases

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LONDON — European markets closed the first quarter of 2024 around 6.8% higher Thursday as recent inflation data continues to show pressures from higher prices are cooling.

The Stoxx 600 index closed 0.23% higher for the day, after hitting yet another all-time high in March — rising above 513 points during the session. It was the best quarter in a year, according to Lseg data, and the best month since December 2023.

Markets will remain closed for Good Friday and Easter Monday, with most trading in the region not resuming until Tuesday.

Travel stocks, which led gains throughout the day were around 0.95% higher, while utilities dipped by 0.5%. JD Sports Fashion jumped by as much as 16% on Thursday after the company issued a trading update that calmed investor concerns about the retailer’s outlook.

On the data front, gross domestic product figures Thursday confirmed that the U.K. economy fell into a recession in 2023 with a 0.3% contraction in the final quarter. Germany’s statistics agency meanwhile said employment nudged fractionally higher in February.

Globally, U.S. stocks were trading near the flatline as the S&P 500 approached its best first-quarter performance in five years.

Overnight in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan stocks fell the most among Asian markets while Australian stocks hit a record high, helped by a boost from mining shares.

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