By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
European stocks on Wednesday leaned higher ahead of a key U.S. interest rate decision.
After dropping for two sessions, the Stoxx Europe 600 index increased 0.07% to 389.62, led higher by banks and insurers.
The German DAX increased 0.1% to 12384.63, the French CAC 40 increased 0.12% to 5622.46 and the U.K. FTSE 100 increased 0.3% to 7342.16.
Attention in markets turned to the Federal Reserve, with the central bank expected at 2 p.m. Eastern -- after European markets close -- to announce that it's reducing its key interest rate by a quarter-point, cutting rates for the second straight meeting.
The press conference with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell may get more attention as traders try to ascertain whether he believes, as he said in July, that the reduction represents a mid-cycle adjustment or something more.
Analysts at Credit Suisse said the dot plot -- the Fed's projection of interest rates -- will support the market's pricing for three rate cuts in total this year but it will fall short of the market's "aggressive pricing" of another two rate cuts by the end of 2020.
In Europe, the main piece of economic data came from the U.K., where inflation grew a softer-than-expected 1.7% in the 12 months ending August, which put pressure on the British pound .
Of stocks in the spotlight, Electricite de France (EDF.FR) rose 3.6% after saying faults found in nuclear reactor components made by its mostly held Framatome unit do not require immediate action.
Richemont (CFR.EB) shares dropped 1.8% as UBS downgraded the watch maker to sell from neutral. UBS said after four years of recovery, "we may be nearing the end of the cycle" of the European luxury goods sector.