European shares steady, focus on Fed policy meeting
* FTSEurofirst 300 index steadies in morning trading
* Focus on Federal Reserve meeting, forward guidance
* Inditex gains, Smiths Group slips after updates
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - European shares steadied on Wednesday, with focus shifting to the U.S. Federal Reserve's scheduled policy meeting that could announce further stimulus cuts and provide new guidance about the timing of rate rises.
Analysts said a further reduction in the Fed's monthly bond purchases by $5 billion was largely factored in, but investors would look for hints about the speed of future cuts and if the central bank provides a new qualitative guidance on when it might eventually raise interest rates.
"It's still going to be a big announcement," Lorne Baring, managing director of B Capital Wealth Management, said. "We expect no change in the policy in terms of action, but there might be hints about the speed of the withdrawal of monetary stimulus. The markets will move based on the language."
The U.S. central bank's move to inject liquidity in the market by buying bonds and improving global economic outlook had helped European stocks to record an impressive gain of 16 percent last year and pushed the FTSEurofirst 300 index to a 5-1/2-year high this year.
The pan-European index was flat at 1,305.81 points by 0855 GMT after rising in the previous two sessions. Continuación...