European shares fall to lowest close in 3 months

LONDON, Feb 5 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares fell for a third
day on Friday, and notched up their worst weekly performance in
11 months, with banks extending recent declines, on intensified
worries about eurozone sovereign debt.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top
shares fell 1.9 percent to end provisionally at 974.39 points,
the lowest close since early November of last year.

Over the week, the index fell 3.7 percent, its worst weekly
performance since last March. It is down 9.3 percent from the
15-month high it hit on Jan 11.

European policymakers scrambled on Friday to reassure
markets on the stability of their 16-nation currency bloc as
investors shed euro assets for a second day on fears about
debt-laden member states like Greece and Portugal.

Banks took the most points off the index. BNP Paribas
(BNPP.PA: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: ), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: ) and
Societe Generale (SOGN.PA: ) fell between 1.2 and 5.5 percent.

Greek banks (.FTATBNK: ) to fall included National Bank
(NBGr.AT: ), EFG Eurobank (EFGr.AT: ), Piraeus Bank (BOPr.AT: ) and
Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT: ), down between 4.5 and 7.4 percent.

Some analysts pointed to other reasons for investors to
worry. “I don’t buy into the earnings recovery story. As the
year goes on, it’s going to be more difficult for companies to
beat last year’s earnings,” said Jeremy Batstone-Carr,
strategist at Charles Stanley.

U.S. payrolls unexpectedly fell in January, but the
unemployment rate surprisingly dropped to a five-month low,
according to a government report that suggested the labor market
was still improving slowly. [ID:nN04115255]

Investing Analysis

(Reporting by Brian Gorman)

European shares fall to lowest close in 3 months