European Stocks Pare Gains as They Await Fed's Next Move

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices pared gains accrued earlier this week as investors focused on the Federal Reserve's next move and as German price data pointed to subdued growth.

Clues on the rate outlook may come from the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes of its July 29-30 meeting, due out Wednesday, and from global monetary whizzes including Fed boss Janet Yellen and European Central Bank counterpart Mario Draghi, who will assemble in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Thursday for an annual symposium.

Meanwhile, the German government's statistics agency said July producer prices fell 0.1% month-on-month, defying expectations for a 0.1% increase. Prices were down 0.8% year on year, after falling at an annual rate of 0.7% the month before.

In the U.K., Bank of England minutes showed that two out of nine policymakers voted to lift rates at its last meeting, though inflation news has since tempered expectations that rates are poised to rise from their historic low 0.5%, where they've sat for more than five years.

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In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.34% at 6,755.94. In Frankfurt, the DAX slid 0.54% to 9,284.13. The CAC in Paris slipped 0.48% to 4,234.07.

In London, infrastructure services company Balfour Beatty fell almost 7% after the company rejected a sweetened all-share offer from peer Carillion that values the company at 2.09 billion pounds ($3.46 billion) and refused to ask the Takeover Panel to extend a Thursday deadline for its suitor to come up with a firm offer or formally back down and be barred from bidding for six months under most circumstances.

In Denmark, brewer Carlsberg was down over 3% after cutting its full-year profit outlook because of problems in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. It expects "organic" profit growth to increase in the low- to mid-single digit percentages; it was expecting high-single-digit percentage growth before. But in Amsterdam peer Heineken surged over 6% after beating first-half profit forecasts with a 19% rise in organic net profit. It said the economic outlook remains mixed, however, and predicted "some moderation in top-line and profit growth in the second half of the year."

In Paris, Air France-KLM was down more than 1% as rumors circulated about a reorganization.

In Asia, stock indices were mixed. The world's leading miner, BHP Billiton (BHP) , closed down 3.9% in Sydney after news Tuesday that it will split into two and won't, for now, return cash to shareholders. By contrast, mining and commodities giant Glencore (GLNCY) on Wednesday announced a $1 billion share buyback with its first-half profit report, though its shares were little changed in London.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.03% to 15,454.45, and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng climbed 0.15% to 25,159.76.

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