China's target of around five percent growth this year surprised markets

London (AFP) - Major stock markets mostly rose Monday, with Paris briefly reaching a fresh record, as traders reacted to indications the Federal Reserve could soon end a policy of hiking interest rates.

The Paris CAC 40 went back above 7,400 points, having breached the level for the first time last month. That came amid a record-high for London’s FTSE 100 also in February as investors bet on the eurozone and Britain swerving recession this year.

However, lingering fears about high interest rates aimed at cooling elevated inflation have dampened equities in recent sessions.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is set to discuss monetary policy before the House and Senate committees on Tuesday, proceedings that will be scrutinised by investors seeking rate outlook clues.

“Powell’s remarks will be closely watched by investors, as any hawkish signals he sends could lead to market volatility,” said Matthew Weller, global head of research at and City Index.

That comes ahead of US payroll data on Friday and the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting from Thursday, which will be the last for governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

China’s outgoing Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday said the country’s economy would expand “around five percent” this year, slightly below what analysts had predicted.

The world’s second-largest economy grew three percent last year, missing its target of around 5.5 percent under the impact of strict Covid-19 containment policies and a property crisis.

China lifted its pandemic restrictions in December.

“China set itself one of the lowest gross domestic product targets in many years, hinting to investors that the big reopening boom may not be as positive for the global economy as hoped,” noted Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Finalto trading group.

“Oil and other industrial commodities slipped on the news, whilst basic resources stocks in London were hit, dragging the FTSE 100 marginally into the red.”

London stocks finished the day down 0.2 percent. Frankfurt stocks rose 0.5 percent and Paris added 0.3 percent.

While markets were surprised by the Chinese announcement, OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said the lack of considerable stimulus to turbo-charge the economic recovery may be a blessing in disguise.

“One of the upside risks to inflation this year was a turbo-charged Chinese recovery which would drive up demand for a host of commodities from oil to iron ore and as a result prices,” said Erlam.

“So while we may not get the growth boost, we’re probably getting something far more valuable,” he added.

Wall Street opened with modest gains after having posted on Friday its strongest session in more than a month as a drop in US Treasury bond yields fortified beliefs the Fed was nearing the end of its rate-hiking cycle.

US Treasury bond yield continued to fall on Monday.

“The stock market liked what it saw in the Treasury market on Friday and likes what it continues to see today,” said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at

Oil prices rebounded after having earlier fallen on expectations Chinese demand wouldn’t be as strong as forecast.

Meanwhile the dollar edged higher against the yen but slipped against its the euro and pound.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 33,479.18 points

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,929.79 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.5 percent at 15,653.58 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 7,373.21 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 4,313.76 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.2 percent at 20,603.19 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 28,237.78 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3322.03 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0678 from $1.0635 Friday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2029 from $1.2046

Euro/pound: UP at 88.75 pence from 88.32 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 135.96 yen from 135.83 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $80.16 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $86.05 per barrel