European shares edged lower on Monday, pausing after a two session rally as investors took profits on stocks less exposed to any uptick in growth as a result of potential central bank interventions in Europe and the United States.

Risk appetite was supported by speculation the US Federal Reserve would announce measures to stimulate the economy on Wednesday, as well as the European Central Bank's pledge last week to buy struggling countries' bonds if they apply for a bailout.

“With the latest data, there's a 50 percent chance that we see some sort of additional quantitative easing, but I would not expect the full-blown QE3 programme as it has been discussed in the market,” Stefan Angele, head of investment management at Swiss and Global, said.

“(The ECB's move) addresses the short-term fears and the overshooting in risk aversion that we had seen in the market.”

The food & beverage sector, down 1.2 percent, extended a two session fall from all-time highs and healthcare shares fell 0.7 percent as investors switched into basic resources stocks and euro zone banks, which rose 0.8 percent and 0.4 percent adding to strong gains in the previous sessions.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index shed 0.3 percent to a provisional close of 1,103.97 points after rallying 2.7 percent in the previous two sessions. - Reuters