UK Markets closed

Marketmind: Brisk China activity sets the mood

A general view shows the trading floor at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Ankur Banerjee

After a tentative start to the month, markets in Asia got a jolt from China's manufacturing activity which expanded at the fastest pace in more than a decade in February, and the exuberant mood is likely to seep through to European markets.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was pinned near two-month lows at the start of the day before spiking up 1.4%, and was on track for its best day in nearly two months after China's manufacturing purchasing managers' index for February surged to 52.6, up from 50.1 in January.

The data from China was an exception for the region, where factory activity otherwise stalled in February, but investors bet on recovery in the world's second biggest economy at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to stay hawkish for longer.

Meanwhile, Australia's economy grew at its weakest pace in a year last quarter, as strength in trade was offset by rising interest rates and high inflation.

Data from France and Spain on Monday highlighted the sticky nature of inflation, weighing on the continent-wide STOXX 600 index. The index was one of the few to eke out meagre gains for the month of February. And after a euphoric January, traders might wonder what comes next. March madness, perhaps?

March also brings us the next set of central bank meetings, with investors expecting the ECB to hike interest rates by 50 basis points, taking the benchmark rate to 3%. The central bank is due to meet on March 16.

But before that, investors will parse through a raft of economic data, including S&P global manufacturing PMIs for the Eurozone, Germany and France later in the day.

China's factory activity at a decade high,

Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:

Economic events: UK house prices, S&P Global manufacturing PMI for Spain, France, Germany and Eurozone

Speakers: BOE's Andrew Bailey, Italian central bank governor Ignazio Visco

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee; Editing by Edmund Klamann)