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Europe: Shares edge up


[LONDON] European shares rose on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of a crucial rate-setting meeting of the US Federal Reserve for clues about the market's near-term direction.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst index ended up 0.3 per cent, after climbing 2.9 per cent in the previous session following a rebound in crude oil prices.

Greek shares rose 3 per cent, outperforming the rest of Europe after the Greek parliament approved a bill containing reforms demanded by the country's international lenders.

Many investors remained cautious before the conclusion of the Fed's policy meeting, however, after which the US central bank is expected to announce its first rate hike in nearly a decade.

Although only a modest quarter-point increase is expected, that would signal the beginning of an end to an expansionary monetary policy that has supplied a tidal wave of liquidity to markets globally.

"After yesterday's rally investors are staying on the sidelines ahead of the Fed's policy decision later today. Regardless of the outcome we think the environment for European stocks will remain supportive in the next 6-12 months thanks to an accommodative monetary policy," said BayernLB senior equity analyst Christoph Gmeinwieser. "We do not see the Fed's interest-rate turnaround triggering a lasting trend reversal on the down-side ... but temporary market turbulence needs to be factored in," he added.

Casino surged 6.5 per cent, among the best performers in Europe, after the French retailer said late on Tuesday it plans to raise more than 2 billion euros in 2016 by selling part of its real estate portfolio in Thailand and Colombia as well as its Vietnam operations.

Dixons Carphone rose 1.7 per cent after Britain's largest electricals and mobile phone retailer beat forecasts with a 23 per cent rise in first half profit, helped by a strong performance in its home market, where it outperformed rivals.

"The benefits of the Dixons-Carphone merger are becoming increasingly evident, as the group forges ahead on revenues and profit," Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

Among Brazil-exposed stocks, utilities Enel, Gas Natural and Iberdrola underperformed to fall between 0.05 and 0.9 per cent after Fitch downgraded to junk the Latin American country.

Zodiac Aerospace fell 3.7 per cent, the worst performer in the FTSEurofirst 300, after saying it was behind schedule in supplying toilets for the Airbus A350.

The company is only just emerging from a year-long crisis over delays in production of aircraft seats that disrupted some airplane deliveries.