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European shares fall for 4th day ahead of ECB, data

Thursday, 5 Dec 2013 | 3:09 AM ET

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - European shares fell for a fourth straight day to trade near a seven-week low early on Thursday, with investors taking some money off the table before central bank rate decisions and Friday's crucial U.S. jobs data.

Although the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are likely to hold off any fresh policy action later in the day, the ECB's new economic forecasts will be in focus for signs of prolonged price weakness that could lead it to act again next year.

The ECB surprised markets last month with a cut in rates to a new record low. With inflation running far below its target, analysts are looking to the new projections for clues about whether the ECB could yet take further policy measures to support the euro zone's weak economic recovery.

At 0804 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.4 percent at 1,269.08 points after slipping to a seven-week low in the previous session.

Investors also stayed cautious ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs data, with better-than-expected reading of the ADP National Employment Report on private-sector jobs on Wednesday raising expectations that non-farm jobs numbers will also surprise on the positive side.

A further improvement in the labour market could prompt the U.S. central bank to trim its stimulus sooner than previously expected, a negative scenario for equities.