European stocks rebound on easing inflation data, U.S. debt deal optimism

<html xmlns=""><head><title>UPDATE 2-European stocks rebound on easing inflation data, U.S. debt deal optimism</title></head><body>

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Euro zone inflation tumbles, fuelling ECB rates debate

STOXX 600 recovers from two-month lows

Heidelberg Materials jumps on J.P.Morgan rating upgrade

Updates prices to close, changes analyst comment in paragraph 5, adds details on ECB, inflation data and sector moves

By Ankika Biswas and Sruthi Shankar

June 1 (Reuters) -European stocks bounced back on Thursday as data on easing inflation sparked a debate on the need for further interest rate hikes beyond this month, while hopes that the U.S. will avoid a debt default also boosted investor sentiment.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX closed 0.8% higher, after closing at a two-month low in the previous session.

Basic resources .SXPP, media .SXMP and energy .SXEP were the top sector gainers.

Both headline and core inflation in the euro zone eased in May and were well below expectations, coming on the heels of recent lower-than-expected inflation data from Spain, France and Germany that spurred hopes that interest rates will peak in September, compared with the previous forecast of December.

"The inflation data is in the right direction, and takes some of the pressure off expectations of even more aggressive European Central Bank hikes," said Giles Coghlan, chief market analyst at HYCM, who sees another drop in inflation figures and some losses in European job markets further paving the way for expectations around an easing in policy tightening.

On that note, ECB member and Bank of France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau noted that rate hikes were beginning to have an impact on inflation and the upcoming hikes will be marginal, while President Christine Lagarde continued to stress the need for more policy tightening.

Some Fed officials pointed towards an interest rate hike "skip" in June, prompting a quick reversal of market expectations for another hike as the U.S. central bank weighs the value of caution against still-strong inflation data.

Meanwhile, U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the bill to suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default, with majority support from both Democrats and Republicans, stoking optimism that it can move through the Senate before the weekend.

"There's optimism that the deal could pass without much hindrance through the Senate as long as time doesn't run out," Coghlan added, "But focus will quickly switch once we get that debt ceiling deal done onto the path of U.S. rates and whether the Fed's gonna pause in June and how they're going to respond to the tight labour market."

Among single stocks,Heidelberg Materials HEIG.DE climbed 2.0% after J.P.Morgan upgraded the cement maker's stock rating to "overweight", calling it a "big opportunity" as the sector looks to attract more investors in decarbonisation efforts.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Eileen Soreng; Editing by Ros Russell


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