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Europe: Stocks rise with eyes on Fed, Dutch vote

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[LONDON] Europe's main stock markets advanced Wednesday as dealers positioned themselves for a likely Federal Reserve rate hike, while Dutch voters head to the polls.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of major blue-chip companies added 0.2 per cent to 7,370.71 points.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 grew 0.1 per cent to 12,000.44 points and the Paris CAC 40 also won 0.1 per cent to 4,980.05 compared with the close on Tuesday.

The US central bank's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is all but certain to announce an interest rate hike later on Wednesday.

Market voices on:

"Today's main event - apart from the Dutch elections of course - is the FOMC decision," said Rabobank analyst Philip Marey.

"Last Friday's employment report is likely to have convinced the FOMC to go ahead with the rate hike that they carefully signalled to the markets earlier this month."

Meanwhile in Europe, millions of Dutch voters go to the polls Wednesday in an election overshadowed by a blazing diplomatic row with Turkey, with all eyes on the fate of far-right MP Geert Wilders.

Following last year's shock Brexit referendum and Donald Trump's surprise victory in the US presidential polls, the Dutch vote is seen as a litmus test of the strength of far-right and populist parties ahead of crucial elections in France and Germany later this year.

"Despite the prospect of an incredibly tight Dutch election the DAX and CAC nabbed some early gains," added Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

"There is not a lot for the (eurozone) region today ... so any political news out of the Netherlands might be its main driver."