The Paris Bourse ended the session up a modest 0.28% at 7,954 points, buoyed by performances from Legrand (+2.6%), Renault (+2.3%) and Alstom (+1.7%).

Investors took note of ADP's monthly survey showing that the US private sector generated 140,000 new jobs in February.

ADP points out in particular that wage gains for those changing jobs accelerated for the first time in over a year, rising from 7.2% to 7.6%, a level well ahead of inflation.

The labor market remains buoyant, but this is unlikely to tip the balance in terms of the Fed's rate decision this year", says Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.

In another figure, US wholesale inventories fell by 0.3% in January 2024, compared with +0.4% in December, according to the Commerce Department.

Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, is due to appear before the US Congress this evening. Traders are expecting Powell to reaffirm his desire to maintain a cautious approach to rate cuts, and to push back the horizon for a rate cut to June.

In Europe, retail sales figures for the euro zone confirm that European households are now more inclined to save than to consume.

Between December 23 and January 24, seasonally-adjusted retail sales volumes rose by 0.1% in the eurozone and 0.3% in the EU, according to Eurostat, following declines of 0.6% and 0.7% respectively in December.

Much of the good news now seems to be priced in, which could limit stock market gains even in the case of positive surprises, given that many indices are trading at all-time highs.

To such an extent that some analysts currently fear the formation of a 'bubble' in the financial markets.

This could justify a restrictive monetary policy for some time to come, as premature rate cuts could further inflate asset prices and generate a new wave of inflationary pressures", warns JPMorgan.

While recognizing that equity markets may indeed need a break, eToro's teams believe that the rally is underpinned by solid fundamentals.

Markets tend to follow trends, which means that new highs often lead to further highs", says Ben Laidler, global strategist for the Israeli neo-broker.

On the bond market, 10-year T-Bonds eased -3pts to 4.105%, while Bunds stagnated at 2.320%.

The dollar fell by -0.4% against the euro to $1.090/E, while Brent crude gained 2% to $83.7/barrel and gold gained almost 1.5% to around $2,145/ounce.

In other French news, TotalEnergies has signed an agreement with its partner QatarEnergy to acquire interests in Block 3B/4B offshore South Africa from Africa Oil South Africa, Azinam and Ricocure.

Virbac announces the signature of a definitive agreement with ORIX Corporation for the acquisition of its animal health subsidiary Sasaeah for an enterprise value of around 280 million euros, a transaction that gives the French company a leading position in Japan.

Ekinops reported net income down 70% to 3.6 million euros for 2023, and EBITDA down 18% to 18.6 million, representing a margin down 3.3 points to 14.4% on sales up 1% to 129.1 million.

Finally, Dassault Aviation reported sales of 4.8 billion euros in 2023, compared with nearly 7 billion euros in 2022. Adjusted net income will reach a 'record' €886 million, compared with €830 million in 2022, thanks to Thales' strong contribution to net income.

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