Europe stocks extend August slide on economic fears

* FTSEurofirst 300 loses 1.1 pct, down 2.7 pct in August

* Investors brace for flurry of U.S. macro data

* Energy shares hit by sharp retreat in oil futures

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU]

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Aug 31 (BestGrowthStock) – European stocks were down around
midday on Tuesday, on track to record their sixth monthly loss
this year, as investors fretted about lingering worries over the
health of the U.S. economy ahead of key macroeconomic data.

At 1108 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top
European shares was down 1.1 percent at 1,014.74 points in a
broad retreat led by banking shares.

Allied Irish Bank (ALBK.I: ) dropped 5.4 percent, Credit
Agricole (CAGR.PA: ) fell 2.7 percent and BBVA (BBVA.MC: ) shed 2.1
percent.

The Euro STOXX 50 (.STOXX50E: ), was down 1.1 percent at
2,589.12, but off the day’s low and back just above a key
support level, the 23.6 percent retracement of a fall from an
April high to a May low.

The euro zone’s blue chip index has lost 9 percent since
Aug. 5, after a raft of grim economic data ignited fears the
U.S. economy could slide into recession again.

“Yesterday, the bulls failed to keep last week’s rally
going. We still think the indexes are heading for the year’s
lows,” said Alexandre Le Drogoff, technical analyst at Aurel
BGC, in Paris.

On Tuesday, investors braced for a flurry of macroeconomic
data, including the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index, the
Institute for Supply Management’s monthly index of business
activity for the New York region, the Institute of Supply
Management Chicago’s monthly index of manufacturing activity,
the Conference Board’s consumer confidence data, as well as the
Federal Open Market Committee’s minutes from its meeting of Aug.
10.

“We’ve have had a string of weak numbers, and now even
second-tier economic data can have a big impact on the market,”
said Joost Van Leenders, investment specialist allocation and
strategy at BNP Paribas Investment Partners in Amsterdam.

“We’re still ‘underweight’ equities because of the economic
outlook. We’ve been expecting a slowdown in the second half of
the year with the boom from inventories and stimulus spending
fading, and it has actually been a bit worst than we had
anticipated.”

Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index (.FTSE: ) was down 1
percent, Germany’s DAX index (.GDAXI: ) down 0.8 percent, and
France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) down 1 percent.

A steep drop in oil prices (CLc1: ) on expectations of higher
crude inventories and worries about a weakness in oil demand
hurt energy shares. The STOXX Europe 600 oil and gas index
(.SXEP: ) fell 1.4 percent, with Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ) down
1.7 percent and BP (BP.L: ) down 1.6 percent.

Shares in Dutch chip equipment maker ASML (ASML.AS: ) tumbled
4 percent to a nine-month low after brokers downgraded their
ratings on the shares following Intel’s (INTC.O: ) revenue warning
last week.

Among the few stocks on the upside, Italian telephone
directory company Seat Pagine Gialle SpA (PGIT.MI: ) rose 2.6
percent, boosted by a report that PagesJaunes Groupe (PAJ.PA: )
was interested in buying the company. A PagesJaunes spokeswoman
denied the report.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

Europe stocks extend August slide on economic fears