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European shares fall on growth worries ahead of Fed rate decision

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European shares fell on Wednesday from the near one-week highs hit in the previous session, amid growing concerns of a global economic slowdown, ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.

The region-wide STOXX 600 was down 0.6% at 0920 GMT.

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The index had rallied more than 1% on Tuesday after a softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data raised hopes of the Fed shifting to smaller rate hikes.

“There’s a tension between inflation coming down and the ongoing questions around economic growth and the prospects for a recession in developed economies next year,” said Richard Flax, chief investment officer at Moneyfarm.

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The Fed is widely expected to deliver a 50 basis-point (bp)rate increase at 1400 ET (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, after four back-to-back 75 bps hikes. However, concerns about the future trajectory of rate hikes kept optimism in check, as investors worried about the prospects of the economy being tipped into a recession from sharp interest rate hikes.

“Everyone will be looking to see not just the rate decision but also any commentary around that to give any clues as to when they (the Fed) reach the peak policy rate, how long they keep it there and when potentially they could think about an easing cycle,” Moneyfarm’s Flax said.

British inflation also fell sharper than expected in November, offering further evidence of easing price pressures after euro zone inflation also slowed last month. Both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank will announce interest rate decisions on Thursday.

Travel and leisure stocks, which fell 2.3%, were the top decliners on the STOXX 600 on Wednesday, dragged by London-listed shares of TUI, with tech in tow, falling about 0.8%.

Shares of TUI fell 6% after the world’s largest holiday firm said it planned to repay COVID-19 support through a capital raise next year.

Meanwhile, Zara owner Inditex rose 1.7% after the world’s biggest fashion retailer posted a 24% increase in net profit for the first nine months of its fiscal year. (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)



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