European shares gain on hope of less hawkish Fed
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.6 pct, focus on Fed statement
* French stocks bounce back after PM Valls wins confidence vote
* Smiths Group falls after slump in operating profit
* Richemont drops after posting lower sales in China and HK
By Atul Prakash and Blaise Robinson
LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - European shares rose in cautious trading on Wednesday on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve may signal after a meeting later in the day that it will continue to keep interest rates low for a longer period.
However, British equities underperformed, as investors remained jittery ahead of Scotland's referendum on independence on Thursday. Three opinion polls showed Scottish supporters of staying in the United Kingdom were 4 percentage points ahead of secessionists.
Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent, against a 0.6 percent gain for the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares to 1,386.66 points by 1035 GMT. The European index hit a two-week low in the previous day.
Sentiment on European markets was lifted after U.S. stocks turned positive on Tuesday on a report in the Wall Street Journal, which indicated the Fed could be less hawkish than markets have been expecting, traders said. Continuación...