FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - The record mood among investors has continued this week. While the high points of the reporting season are largely over, the agenda for the last few days of February mainly includes news on inflation. The DAX will have to measure itself against its record high above the 17,440 point mark.

In Germany, preliminary data on the development of consumer prices in February is due on Thursday. Inflation data from the USA, which is based on private consumer spending, will also be published. This is an important indicator for the US Federal Reserve. Dekabank chief economist Ulrich Kater expects a strong increase in the core rate, especially in US service prices, compared to the previous month.

"Market participants can no longer expect key interest rates to be cut too quickly," emphasized Kater against this backdrop. However, the prospect of a turnaround in key interest rates from the summer is still enough to keep market participants in a constructive mood.

If this continues, the leading German index would end February on a positive note. It is currently up 2.8 percent this month after a rise of 0.9 percent in January. Last year, the DAX had already made strong gains.

"Investors have come to terms with the generally less euphoric expectations of interest rate cuts and are daring to come out of hiding again," says Robert Halver from Baader Bank, summing up the latest rally. Even Japanese shares have broken out to the upside - the Nikkei 225 benchmark index reached a record high after more than 30 years of drought.

On the stock exchanges in Frankfurt and New York, record highs have recently become commonplace. Experts are therefore also warning of the danger of a correction, even though a "release of pressure" would be nothing unusual and perhaps even healthy for the market as a whole, according to Halver. "It would offer investors more favorable buying opportunities again after the markets have settled quickly - as has been the case recently," says Halver.

Experts certainly see catch-up potential for European equities when their valuation is compared with those in the USA. "The expected future price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) of the much-celebrated Nasdaq 100 tech index is now 33, which is eleven points higher than the average of the past 20 years," warned stock market expert Thomas Altmann from asset manager QC Partners on Friday. In Germany, the situation is somewhat more relaxed, as the P/E ratio for the DAX is 15, which is exactly the long-term average.

On the corporate side, reports from DAX companies will take center stage in the coming days. Munich Re will open its books on Tuesday, Beiersdorf, Covestro and MTU on Thursday and Daimler Truck and Volkswagen on Friday.

On Wall Street, however, the most important announcements are over with the exhilarating results from Nvidia. According to the experts at Societe Generale bank, around 90 percent of US companies have presented their figures, mostly with positive surprises.

"The US economy is here to stay," states investment expert Thorsten Weinelt from Commerzbank. "The series of interest rate hikes over the last two years has been absorbed surprisingly well." However, the ISM Purchasing Managers' Index for the manufacturing sector in the USA, which is due to be published on Friday and thus heralds the start of the bearish month of March, is likely to be viewed critically this week.

As a leading economic indicator, this could carry particular weight with investors. The experts at Landesbank Helaba point out that the ISM index is still below the expansion threshold of 50 points. "Any scratching of this threshold could cause current interest rate expectations to spike again," says the Landesbank's outlook./tih/ajx/mis/jha/

--- By Timo Hausdorf, dpa-AFX ---