RBS leads European shares lower as executive leaves

LONDON Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:18am EST

LONDON Dec 11 (Reuters) - European shares edged lower at the open on Wednesday, led by Royal Bank of Scotland, which slipped after a high-profile executive departure, as uncertainty over the U.S. monetary policy curbed demand.

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland fell 1.6 percent after finance director Nathan Bostock resigned after just 10 weeks in the job, dealing a major blow to the group's turnaround efforts.

It was the top faller on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which was down 0.1 percent at 1,262.31 points at 0809 GMT.

Stocks were also weighed down by uncertainty over the timing of a reduction in the Federal Reserve's equity-friendly stimulus programme, which led investors to continue to take profits after a solid rally in stocks this year.

The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The jury is still out on whether it will start trimming the Fed's monthly asset purchases, which have helped the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 rise around 16 percent since September 2012.

Investors will also focus on the Fed's future guidance for interest rates. Eurodollar and Fed fund futures are not fully priced for a first rate rise until late 2015.

News that budget negotiators had reached a provisional two-year deal to avoid another U.S. government shutdown offered some relief about public finances, but was also seen as providing more room for the Fed to dial back its stimulus scheme earlier.