European shares inch higher; Sanofi drops again
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.3 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.1 pct * Fugro tumbles 21 pct after saying it won't pay dividend * STMicro drops after warning on revenue By Blaise Robinson PARIS, Oct 29 (Reuters) - European stocks inched higher early on Wednesday, tracking sharp gains on Wall Street ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy announcement. At 0900 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,321.07 points, led by miners including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, up 0.9-1.1 percent and climbing along with metals prices. France's Schneider Electric rose 3.1 percent after reporting a 7 percent rise in third-quarter sales and saying Western Europe showed long-awaited but fragile signs of stabilisation. French pharma group Sanofi dropped 3.7 percent, adding to the previous session's slump after its board said on Wednesday it had decided to oust chief executive Chris Viehbacher. "This creates more uncertainty just after the group published results and outlook figures which were not reassuring," a Paris-based trader said. Dutch marine services group Fugro sank 20 percent after it warned that it will not pay a dividend over 2014 due to deteriorating markets and price pressure on oil and gas projects. The news knocked the shares of peers Saipem, CGG and Subsea, down 1.8-4.4 percent. Europe's largest semiconductor company STMicroelectronics shed 7 percent after posting higher than expected quarterly net profit but saying margins would be flat and revenue would decline in the final quarter due to a softening market. Around Europe, the UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.7 percent, and France's CAC 40 up 0.1 percent. When it concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Fed is expected to announce the end of its bond-buying stimulus while restating its willingness to wait before hiking interest rates, which should reassure markets. "All eyes are on the Fed, which is set to announce the end of quantitative easing. Investors will certainly remain cautious ahead of the statement," Barclays France fund manager Philippe Cohen said. U.S. stocks rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 ending above its 50-day moving average for the first time in almost a month, helped by strong quarterly results from a number of blue-chips. About a third of companies listed on the STOXX Europe 600 benchmark index have reported results so far in the earnings season, with 67 percent of them meeting or beating profit forecasts, and 59 percent meeting or beating revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data. In absolute terms, European companies have posted a 13.6 percent rise in quarterly earnings, and a 0.7 percent rise in revenue. Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v Today's European research round-up (editing by John Stonestreet)
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