European stocks steady at open

Europe's main stock markets drifted lower at the open on Wednesday, after a round of bumper gains the previous day, as concerns grew over the future of central bank stimulus.

Expectations the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates and the European Central Bank will also tighten monetary policy also dragged most Asian indices lower, dealers said.

In initial trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip companies dipped almost 0.1 percent to 7,070.55 points, having soared Tuesday as the pound hit a 31-year dollar low.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 0.8 percent to 10,535.62 points and the Paris CAC 40 shed 0.9 percent compared with the close on Tuesday to 4,462.72.

"European equity markets are on the back foot as concerns grow that central banks are going to pare back accommodative policy -- with the ECB potentially tapering bond purchases and previously dovish Fed members ramping up expectations of an interest rate rise this year," said Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at stockbroker Interactive Investor.

"Both equity and bond market valuations have been founded on monetary support from global central banks and have arguably become hooked on quantitative easing and low interest rates.

"The possibility of central banks returning to a more normal regime could see taper tantrums resume, volatility spike and investors flee."

The region's indices had charged higher on Tuesday, with London soaring after Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to kick start the Brexit process by the end of March 2017.

The pound tumbled to a fresh 31-year low below $1.27 after May set out a timetable for leaving the European Union by 2019.

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