Article Highlights

  • STOXX 600 down 0.2 pct
  • Hermes rises after reporting record margins
  • British high st stocks get a hammering
  • Fed policy statement due after market close
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European shares edged lower on Wednesday, with investors cautiously awaiting the conclusion of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for signals on the pace of expected interest rate rises.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 percent by 0956 GMT, as more cyclical sectors such as financials, materials and industrials retreated.

“The Fed meeting is really the big event of the day. What we’re looking out for most is the forward guidance … it’s how the accompanying statement is worded, whether it proves particularly hawkish, whether policymakers are guiding towards four rate hikes this year as opposed to three,” said Henry Croft, research analyst at Accendo Markets.

European tech bucked the trend and advanced 0.1 percent, led be semiconductor makers.

The sector has, for now, seen little fallout from the reports of Facebook data misuse that have sent the U.S. social media giant’s shares down 10 percent over the past two sessions

French luxury goods maker Hermes jumped 3.3 percent after its profit margin reached a record in 2017 and the company increased its dividend.

It was still doom and gloom in the British retail sector, with Kingfisher down more than 8 percent after beating full-year earnings forecasts but warning that the UK market was “more uncertain.”

Smaller UK stock Moss Bros, which makes men’s suits and formalwear, tumbled 20 percent after a profit warning while retailer Carpetright said that it was raising capital to try to turn its business around.

Ubisoft rose 3.7 percent after Vivendi sold its entire stake in the video game maker for 2 billion euros ($2.45 billion). Ubisoft has long opposed the French media group’s involvement in the company.