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LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen pausing after two sessions of gains on Wednesday as traders held fire ahead of a policy update from the U.S. Federal Reserve, whose ultra-easy monetary stance has been a key driver behind a sharp equity rally over the past 1-1/2 years.
At 0728 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain’s FTSE 100 , Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were between 0.1 percent lower and 0.1 percent higher. The cash indexes are up by between 1.2 percent and 2.3 percent so far this week.
The Fed is set to further trim its bond-buying stimulus and could rewrite its guidance on when it might eventually raise interest rates, with some expecting chair Janet Yellen to scrap a numerical target on unemployment and adopt a more flexible stance.
“The Fed have detailed a number of changes recently, so we shouldn’t be surprised by most of the big changes that should be announced,” Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, said in a trading note. “The question is how radical are the changes are? Given price action of late, the market is positioned for a dovish stance.”
The Euro STOXX 50 rose 0.8 percent on Tuesday after comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin eased concerns that tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine would escalate.
The index has been bouncing back from “oversold” territory after shedding nearly three percent last week on concerns about the Ukrainian crisis and jitters in the Chinese credit market.
The Euro STOXX 50 has risen roughly 35 percent since the Fed announced its monetary stimulus programme in September 2012, also helped by some signs of economic recovery in the euro zone.
“We’re going to have a technical rally and just a glimpse of where we were at the high, so 6,700 for the FTSE and just over 3,100 for the Euro STOXX 50 and then we’re going to ease back again,” Justin Haque, a pan-European broker at HB Capital Markets, said.
“We were just in the grips of a really healthy correction and now we’re buying back to ‘buy the dips’ mode.”
A reduction in the Fed’s asset-purchase programme, along with a slowing Chinese economy, has already started to hit emerging market economies, causing sharp fluctuations in currency that had been lifted by strong inflows of money over the past few years.
That continued on Wednesday, when Germany’s Brenntag, the world’s largest chemicals distributor, and Zara owner Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, said depreciating foreign currencies were hitting their profits.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pad95v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/rav46v > GLOBAL MARKETS -Asian shares slip before Fed policy review > Wall St rises again as Ukraine woes ease; tech leads > Nikkei rises as Ukraine tension ebbs > TREASURIES-Bond yields edge lower ahead of Fed meeting > Dollar restrained near 4-mth lows ahead of Yellen's debut > PRECIOUS-Gold ticks higher on bargain hunting; Fed eyed > London copper steadies; China worries blunt buying > Brent near six-week low, Ukraine worries ease
The German insurer has started to make payment on claims linked to the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner earlier this month, the German insurer said late-Tuesday.
A senior Justice Department official talked tough about tax dodging, particularly involving Americans’ use of offshore bank accounts, while two U.S. senators separately called on the Justice Department to seek extraditions from Switzerland of bankers accused of aiding Americans in tax evasion.
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The top investor in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena has halved its stake in Italy’s third biggest lender to 15 percent to pay off its debts ahead of a 3-billion euro capital increase the bank needs to avert nationalisation.
Using Roche’s medicine Tamiflu saved lives during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic four years ago, according to a new scientific study published on Wednesday.
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The company plans to cut 4,900 jobs at its T-Systems unit, a spokesman said. Sources had told Reuters last year Deutsche Telekom planned to cut about 4,000 jobs at the unit.
Telecom Italia’s top investor will propose ENI Chairman Giuseppe Recchi as its candidate to chair Italy’s No.1 telecoms group, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.
The oil major does not expect sanctions against Russia over its actions in Crimea to stop the oil and gas group importing Russian gas, the company’s Chief Executive said on Tuesday.
The healthcare group has placed 500 million euros in convertible bonds, higher than the 375 million euros it had aimed for.
The cement maker reported a 79 percent rise in net profit to 945 million euros last year, slightly below estimates. The group proposed to pay a dividend of 0.60 euro per share compared with 0.47 euro the year earlier.
The chemicals distributor posted a 1.4 percent decline in 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to 697 million euros, dragged lower by weak overseas currencies but broadly in line with the average analysts estimate in a Reuters poll.
Italian gas grid operator Snam SRG.MI said on Wednesday it would spend 6 billion euros ($8.3 billion) to 2017 to upgrade the domestic gas infrastructure network. The company also signed a memorandum of understanding with state lender CDP over the sale of a stake in the TAG gas pipeline.
Zara owner Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, posted almost flat full-year net profit, in line with expectations, as results were hit by depreciating currencies in many of its non-euro markets and by store refurbishing costs.
Reporting By Francesco Canepa