September 13, 2013 / 7:16 AM / 5 years ago

European shares edge lower on Fed tightening expectations

LONDON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - European stocks edged lower on Friday as investors took a breather after two weeks of solid gains in anticipation of a tightening in U.S. monetary policy starting from next week.

The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 was down 0.3 percent at 2,852.94 points, slipping away from a two-year high of 2,870.18. The broader FTSEurofirst 300 fell 0.2 percent to 1,245.04 points.

Better-than-expected economic data in Europe has helped investors shrug off concerns about a likely reduction in the Federal Reserve’s asset purchases.

Credit Agricole’s strategists said U.S. data out on Friday, expected to show an increase in retail sales and consumer sentiment, should underpin expectations the Fed will cut its stimulus programme at a meeting on Sept. 17-18, putting risk assets under pressure.

Adding to speculation about a change of tack at the Fed, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper said on Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama will name former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve early as next week.

“Larry Summers is seen as less dovish than (current chairman) Ben Bernanke but no-one really knows what he stands for in terms of monetary policy,” Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, said.

“I think it’s that uncertainty more than anything else that is making investors nervous.”

With the main indexes moving in a narrow range, investors focused on acquisition activity. German healthcare group Fresenius SE rose 4.6 percent as the firm bought 43 hospitals from Rhön-Klinikum.

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