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Marketmind: Calm prevails before inflation data, kiwi stirs

German benchmark index hits a record high at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

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

An eerie calm is pervading global markets as traders await new inflation tests later in the week, which will give the next clues on closely watched rate outlooks in the U.S. and Europe.

There were pockets of excitement in the Asian day, however, as New Zealand's central bank hinted at a slightly less hawkish stance while South Korean shares kept up this month's relentless rally.

The U.S. inflation reading is due on Thursday while the euro zone will weigh in on Friday, and both are expected to dominate market action. Caution will be the driving force in the meantime, with futures indicating a muted open today for European bourses.

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Traders did get a shock early in the day when the Reserve Bank of New Zealand trimmed its projected policy path for future rates.

That was enough to spark a rally in New Zealand bonds, as markets sharply scaled back the risk of further hikes, as well as a 1% dip in the Kiwi to its lowest in nearly two weeks. [AUD/] [FRX/]

Asian shares outside Japan were a tad lower, while the Nikkei was taking a breather after scaling record peaks and closing in on its next target at 40,000.

South Korean stocks are on a tear, up 1% on the day and about 6% in February, lifted by the AI frenzy and authorities' moves this week to boost shareholder returns and reduce the "Korea discount".

Earnings at Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Dettol and Lysol cleaning products, are the main event on the corporate diary, with a focus on how consumer demand is faring in the face of rising prices.

Two of the world's top consumer goods companies, Danone and Nestle, said last week they would slow the pace of price increases this year, after two years of hikes led many shoppers to seek cheaper alternatives.

The M&A chase for Britain's Currys heats up after the electrical retailer rejected an improved 757 million pound ($959 million) bid from U.S. investor Elliott Advisors. China-based online retailer JD.com has said it is also considering an offer.

Apple has cancelled work on its electric car, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, a decade after the iPhone maker kicked off the project.

Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:

Economic events: Feb euro zone economic, industrial and services sentiment as well as euro zone consumer confidence for Feb

Earnings: Reckitt Benckiser

($1 = 0.7898 pounds)

(By Ankur Banerjee; Editing by Edmund Klamann)