European shares hit as US Fed indicates interest rate hikes

European stocks fell in early deals today, led lower by growth-sensitive stocks after the US Federal Reserve indicated it may raise interest rates much earlier than expected.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen sent US stocks and bonds tumbling overnight after she suggested they could rise by mid-2015, a potentially more aggressive path than many had anticipated.

Yellen also said the central bank could end its bond-buying programme this autumn. The Fed’s easy policy stance of low rates and asset purchases has pushed many investors into equities.

“Whether she intended to be taken so literally is open to debate but it was enough to prompt a sharp reversal (in U.S. stocks), and as such we can expect to see a lower open in Europe this morning,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 fell 0.5pc to 1,298.71 by 0805 GMT, having held roughly steady on Wednesday.

Sectors which depend on global demand were the top fallers, with the STOXX Europe 600 Chemical sector index and the STOXX Europe 600 travel & leisure index down 0.9pc and 0.8pc respectively.

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