Most European markets opened higher on 18 September, ahead of the US Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus decision.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened 0.1% higher to 312.38

Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX opened 0.2% higher.

France's CAC 40 opened 0.1% higher.

Spain's IBEX opened 0.3% higher.

Italy's FTSE MIB opened flat.

The Fed is expected to provide clarity on the future pace of its $85bn bond-buying stimulus later today. Despite the central banks' massive monthly asset buys providing significant market stimulus, analysts fear that the Fed will start paring back its asset purchase programme.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will address a press conference on 18 September, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting concludes.

"The major concern to investors today is the conclusion of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting. With markets already pricing in a $10bn per month reduction in bond purchases, Ben Bernanke's forward guidance on interest rates will be a key concern for investors, if there are no surprises on the tapering front," says Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin Securities.

""We expect Bernanke's press conference to be dovish. The Fed will want to temper market expectations that tapering will be rapid or that FOMC participants have brought forward their expectations for the first increase in rates," says Joseph Capurso, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

In company news, London-based multinational engineering firm Smiths Group reported a 2% increase in annual revenue to £3.11bn. Operating profit rose 1% to £560m for the year to July. The company will dole out a special dividend of 30 pence per share.

British sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion reported a 111% increase in pretax profit to £6.09m for the six months to 3 August.

Spain's Inditex, which operates the Zara and Massimo Dutti retail chains, reported a 1% increase in profit to €951m ($1.3bn) for the six months to July.

In Asia and the US

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei finished 1.35% higher on 18 September while Australia's S&P/ASX closed 0.25% lower. Financial markets in South Korea will remain closed for the rest of the week for the Korean thanksgiving holidays.

Earlier in Asia, most markets traded higher, ahead of the US Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus decision.

On Wall Street, indices ended higher on 17 September, ahead of the Fed decision and Bernanke's press conference.

The Dow finished 34.95 points higher at 15,529.73. The S&P 500 closed 7.16 points higher at 1,704.76 while the Nasdaq ended 27.85 points higher at 3,745.70.