* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index steadies
* Zodiac falls on delays in plain toilet deliveries
* Casino gains after selling some real estate
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - European shares steadied on Wednesday after a choppy start as investors awaited the outcome of a crucial rate-setting meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve for clues about the market’s near-term direction.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst index moved in and out of negative territory and was up 0.1 percent at 1,413.26 points by 0915 GMT, after climbing 2.9 percent in the previous session following a rebound in crude oil prices.
Zodiac Aerospace fell 4 percent, the worst performer in the FTSEurofirst 300, after saying it was behind schedule in supplying toilets for the Airbus A350.
The company is only just emerging from a year-long crisis over delays in production of aircraft seats that disrupted some airplane deliveries.
Investors were nervous before the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting, after which the U.S. central bank is expected to announce its rate hike in nearly a decade.
Although only a modest quarter-point increase is expected, that would signal the start of an end to an expansionary monetary policy that has supplied a tidal wave of liquidity to risk asset markets globally.
“With nothing certain until the big revelation this evening, the markets are looking pretty jittery, with the European markets suffering a case of pre-game nerves after yesterday’s aggressive rebound,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.
Despite a fall in the broader stock index and cautious trading, some companies underpinned the market.
Casino surged 7 percent, among the best performers in Europe, after the French retailer said late on Tuesday it plans to raise more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in 2016 by selling part of its real estate portfolio in Thailand and Colombia as well as its Vietnam operations.
Dixons Carphone rose 1.8 percent after Britain’s largest electricals and mobile phone retailer beat forecasts with a 23 percent rise in first half profit, helped by a strong performance in its home market where it outperformed rivals.
“The benefits of the Dixons-Carphone merger are becoming increasingly evident, as the group forges ahead on revenues and profit,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
“The like-for-like increases are particularly hard earned against difficult comparatives. Quite apart from an early boost from Black Friday sales to the festive season, it continues to grow market share and earnings, with notable performances coming from the home market as well as the Nordics.” (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans)