European shares steady, bid activity lifts shares

London - European shares were steady on Thursday, with the region's stock markets supported by new signs of bid activity which lifted the shares of telecoms company Altice and insurer Phoenix.

However, many investors were expected to refrain from buying up big positions before the US Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, due at 20:00.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.1% while the eurozone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index progressed by 0.2%.

Altice shares surged by more than 10% after the company agreed to buy US cable TV operator Cablevision in a deal worth $17.7bn, including debt.

Phoenix Group also rose 2.8% after confirming talks to buy Guardian Financial Services.

Asian stocks edged up to a three-week high on Thursday while the dollar drifted lower against other currencies as investors consolidated positions before the Fed's decision.

Observers of the Fed see the outcome as a toss-up, with Fed chair Janet Yellen's consistently stated desire to see workers reap more benefits from the recovery, contrasting with weak price rises and economic risks, such as a slowdown in China.

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