UPDATE 1-European shares pause near record high with eyes on U.S. inflation data

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* German shares rise on strong China export data

* U.S. consumer price index seen edging up in March

* Tech, retail, travel stocks lead gains

* Sweden's Dustin gains after deal to expand in Benelux region (Adds analyst comments, updates prices)

April 13 (Reuters) - European shares hovered just below all-time highs on Tuesday as strong export data from China reinforced optimism around a swift global economic recovery, while investor attention turned to key U.S. inflation figures due later in the day.

The pan-European STOXX 600 and the export-heavy German stock index rose 0.2% each as data showed China's exports grew at a robust pace in March and import growth surged to its highest in four years.

European technology stocks, retail and travel-related stocks were among the biggest gainers by 0745 GMT.

The benchmark STOXX 600 has surged to record highs this month after coming under pressure in March from rising bond yields, as central banks globally maintained an accommodative stance on monetary policy despite fears of a jump in inflation.

Data due at 1230 GMT is likely to show the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) edged up 0.5% in March following a 0.4% gain in the previous month.

"Markets have become complacent about the inflation question, justifying it as the Street becoming more 'comfortable' with rising inflation," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

"We will see how 'comfortable' markets really are if the CPI prints are much higher than expected. I suspect bond yields will jump along with the dollar in that event."

The European STOXX 600 has also lagged a recovery in its U.S. counterpart due to a slow vaccination roll-out and a new wave of coronavirus infections on the continent.

Bank of France governor and European Central Bank policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Tuesday that France could return to pre-COVID-19 normal economic growth levels by the middle of 2022.

The French bourse was up 0.3% after hitting its highest in a decade last week.

Attention this week will be on the start of the first-quarter corporate earnings season, with major U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc due to report results on Wednesday.

European earnings will kick into higher gear later in April and analysts expect a 47.4% jump in earnings for STOXX 600 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Much of the support is likely to come from consumer cyclicals and industrial firms.

In company news, Swedish IT solutions provider Dustin rose 3.5% after it said it would buy Centralpoint, a seller of hardware and software in the Benelux region, for 425 million euros ($505.6 million).

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

04/13/2021 7:55

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