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Europe: Stock markets hold steady at open

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[LONDON] Europe's main stock markets steadied at the open on Wednesday, as investors awaited the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's latest interest rate meeting.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index added a marginal 0.02 per cent to 6,286.01 points compared with Tuesday's closing level.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index gained 0.2 per cent to 10,283.10 and the Paris CAC 40 edged 0.04 per cent higher to 4,534.99 points.

"Trading all this week has been dominated by this evening's Federal Reserve policy announcement and that is likely to continue through European trading on Wednesday," said CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.

The US central bank wraps up its meeting later Wednesday with a statement that could shed light on the future path of American interest rates.

After the turmoil across world markets earlier this year, the Fed has lowered its forecasts for borrowing costs in 2016, saying it will closely watch overseas developments before making a move.

Sentiment was meanwhile dampened by disappointing earnings news from US tech giant Apple, dealers said.

Apple said Tuesday that waning demand for its popular iPhone handset led to the firm's first dip in revenue since 2003 and was likely to continue this year as a growth slowdown in China drags on that crucial market.

The news pummelled Apple's shares in after-hours US trading, with the firm plummeting more than eight per cent.

Separately, Twitter posted Tuesday a first-quarter loss of US$80 million, compared with a loss of US$162 million a year earlier. Revenues jumped 36 per cent to US$595 million, but this missed expectations.

"More disappointing results from US tech ... knocked sentiment in Asia overnight and offset the positive US close and a rebound in Chinese industrial profits," noted Mike van Dulken, head of research at traders Accendo Markets.

Apple suppliers were among the big losers in Wednesday's Asian trade.

Tokyo stocks fell as Japan's corporate earnings season got off to a shaky start, while traders also awaited a monetary policy decision from the Bank of Japan.

The BoJ's two-day meeting, which ends Thursday, is in focus with policymakers widely expected to unleash more stimulus after deadly earthquakes struck earlier this month.

AFP