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LONDON: European stock markets rose Wednesday as investors cautiously awaited a key Federal Reserve interest rate decision and digested a raft of earnings. London shares climbed 0.3 percent in late morning deals, with Barclays soaring almost three percent on news of surging first-half profit at the UK bank.

Frankfurt also won 0.3 percent and Paris jumped 0.9 percent in early afternoon eurozone trade.

Madrid added 0.7 percent but Santander stock shed 0.8 percent despite the Spanish lender revealing that it rebounded into bumper quarterly profit.

The Fed's monetary policy meeting ends later Wednesday and will be closely watched for any guidance on its plans in light of the economic recovery, reopening and spread of the Delta coronavirus variant that has sent infections spiking.

"All eyes will be on the US Federal Reserve," said AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson.

"As always, investors will want to know the central bank's latest view on the outlook for the US economy and whether it is time to tinker with policy support measures.

"The spread of the Delta virus variant in recent weeks and months could give the Fed reason to make no changes to its policy, but any sign of taking a more forward-looking view and wanting to taper bond purchases could cause ripples across global markets."

Investors were underwhelmed by better-than-expected earnings from US tech titans Apple, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft.

Apple's third-quarter profit rose to $21.7 billion on growth in iPhone sales and its increasingly important digital services.

Revenue surged 36 percent from a year ago to $81.4 billion, the best ever for the tech titan's fiscal third quarter.

"The problem with being the best is you risk becoming a victim of your own success," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates.

"That's what we've seen from the reaction to Apple's results, where despite an exceptional performance, the market's response has been somewhat muted."

Asian markets mostly fell again on Wednesday as fears over China's regulatory crackdown continued to reverberate around trading floors, following losses on Wall Street.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were in focus after suffering a diabolical previous three days in the wake of Beijing unveiling a series of measures aimed at curbing a range of industries - including tech and private tuition - that have raised fears of further action.

Hong Kong rose more than one percent having oscillated wildly but it made only a small dent in the more than nine percent drop suffered over the previous three days.

Bitcoin sat around $39,500 following a recent rally that has helped it briefly break $40,000, helped by renewed support from tycoon Elon Musk and other investors, with some analysts saying it could test $45,000 again soon.

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