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European Shares Poised to Rise After Fed Rate Cut

European stocks were poised to rise on Thursday, tracking gains in U.S. and Asian shares after the Federal Reserve cut U.S. interest rates and data showed surprising strength in the world's biggest economy.

Financial bookmakers, or spread betters in London expected Britain's FTSE 100 index to open between 9 and 10 points higher, the German DAX 13 to 18 points higher and the French CAC 4 to 9 points higher.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares gained 0.9 percent on Wednesday, closing at a two-week high of 1,595.70 points, on buoyant banking and retail shares.

On Wednesday after the European market close the Federal Reserve cut U.S. interest rates by a quarter-percentage point to buffer the economy from a housing downturn, but suggested further rate reductions were far from a sure bet.

The decision by the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee to lower the overnight federal funds rate to 4.5 percent -- a move that followed a more aggressive half-point cut last month -- was widely expected.

"By adopting a neutral directive the Fed probably feels that it is appropriately positioned to foster moderate growth ahead -- and suggests that the Fed will be reluctant to cut rates again, without further exceptional circumstances," Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a note.

U.S. government data showed on Wednesday gross domestic product expanded at its fastest rate during the third quarter since the beginning of 2006, easing investor worries over the health of U.S. economy.