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Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

Europe midday: Shares look for direction ahead of Fed; Philips falls

(Sharecast News) - European shares were struggling for direction on Monday as investors awaited a US interest rate decision this week. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index barely moved the needle in early deals, up 0.03% at 484 at midday.

Asia shares were largely higher overnight, although China's Shanghai index fell on new that troubled property developer Evergrande was ordered to be liquidated by a Hong Kong court. Hong Kong-listed shares of Evergrande plunged 12.2% before trading was suspended.

The US Federal Reserve will announce its latest interest rate decision, with markets expecting the central bank to hold rates steady after weeks of comments from policymakers that early cuts were unlikely in the face of persistent inflation.

"The jury remains split between a cut in either March or May, with the expected six cuts this year likely to be the focus of disappointment should the Fed indicate that such a series seems unlikely given current conditions," said Interactive Investor head of markets Richard Hunter.

Investors will also be analysing the non-farm payrolls report is also due on Friday, with consensus estimates pointing to 173000 jobs having been added in January compared to 216000 the previous month, and unemployment expected to tick up slightly from 3.7% to 3.8%.

In equity news, Philips shares fell sharply after the Dutch company said it had stopped sales of its sleep apnoea machines in the US after reaching an agreement with authorities and was setting aside €363m in the fourth quarter after recalling millions of the devices over the last three years.

Shares in Bayer were down after the German company was ordered to pay $2.25bn in damages in the latest and largest payout so far as part of the long-running court case related to an alleged carcinogenic effect of its Roundup weedkiller.

Ryanair shares fell after the budget carrier cut its full-year profit forecast and posted a 93% decline in third-quarter net profit, as higher fuel costs offset revenue gains and after its flights were removed from online travel agents.

Brent crude rose above $83 a barrel, as investors fretted over supply after more Houthi militant attacks in the Red Sea. Shell and BP made gains on the news.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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