Prices in many financial markets advanced strongly during the first quarter, reflecting increased confidence following the ending of the conflict in the Gulf, and an easing in interest rates in several countries, including in the United States and the United Kingdom. By the end of February (when hostilities ceased) equity prices in major markets were about 15% higher than before the mid-January deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait. Bond markets also advanced at the same time, with the strongest gains in France. The gains in bond and equity markets were generally trimmed back slightly in March but most markets still ended the first quarter of 1991 significantly higher than they had begun it. In the foreign exchange market, the dollar was weak for much of the quarter (reaching an historic low against the deutschemark on 12 February) but then began a strong recovery, ending March at 12% above its trough in trade-weighted terms.