European shares up, U.S. stimulus cut seen moderate
LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher early on Wednesday, trading near their recent five-year highs, on expectations the U.S. central bank would announce only a moderate reduction in its programme of monetary stimulus.
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to pare back its $85 billion monthly purchases of bonds at its two-day meeting, ending on Wednesday. Latest Reuters polling shows economists expect only a $10 billion reduction, down from a $15 billion median prediction in an August poll.
The central bank's decision will be announced at 1800 GMT and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke start his news conference half an hour later. The Fed is also set to release fresh quarterly economic and interest rate projections.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,255.09 points. The index closed at its highest since June 2008 on Monday and is up more than 10 percent so far this year.
Zara owner Inditex, the world's largest clothes retailer, rose 1.1 percent on Tuesday after saying sales at the start of the third quarter rose 10 percent.
"Inditex has managed to buck the trend by differentiating itself as the trendy clothing retailer around the world. Its reputation as the more fashionable name in the high street clothing world has helped the retailer's global footprint," Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital said in a note.