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Weak telecoms, energy sectors drag European shares lower

Sudip Kar-Gupta
Monday, 27 Jan 2014 | 10:47 AM ET

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.5 pct, Euro STOXX 50 eases 0.1 pct

* Energy sector hit after BG warns over production

* Vodafone falls as AT&T says no plans to bid for Vodafone

* No need to panic - OMGI's Kevin Lilley

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - European shares slipped to their lowest level in more than a month on Monday, hit by drops in major telecoms and energy stocks.

The downward move extended falls from last week triggered by concerns about emerging markets and the pace of growth in China, while weak corporate earnings in Europe have also helped to knock European stock markets off multi-year highs.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down by 0.5 percent at 1,295.73 points in late session trading, its lowest level in more than a month, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also slipped 0.1 percent to 3,025.82 points.

Telecoms and energy were the worst-performing European equity sectors. The STOXX Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index fell 1.9 percent as BG slumped 14 percent after warning that production this year and next would fall short of expectations.

The STOXX Europe 600 Telecoms Index also fell 1 percent, with Vodafone dropping 3.3 percent after U.S. mobile operator AT&T said it was not planning to take over Vodafone.

Traders and investors said European markets could lose more ground in the coming month. One fund manager said he expected a further 1 percent fall in the pan-European STOXX 600 index , but added the longer-term picture remained more robust as Europe's economic recovery slowly gathers momentum.

"We continue to think the equity market will trend higher but there is a higher risk of a short-term setback," said Goldman Sachs chief global equity strategist Peter Oppenheimer.

"SLOW EUROPEAN RECOVERY"

European stocks suffered their biggest one-day fall in seven months on Friday, with the FTSEurofirst 300 shedding 2.4 percent and Spain's IBEX dropping 3.6 percent on concerns about economies and currencies in Latin America.

Emerging markets were hit hard last week, with Argentina knocked by a devaluation in its peso currency, while Ukraine has been rocked by political turmoil.

Kevin Lilley, head of European equities at Old Mutual Global Investors, said the emerging markets' problems and concerns about weak corporate earnings could push the STOXX 600 index down by another 1 percent to around 319 points.

However, Lilley said the longer-term picture for 2014 in western Europe was more sound.

The Bundesbank said on Monday that growth in Germany - Europe's largest economy - would accelerate in the first quarter and Lilley backed Germany's DAX - which hit record highs earlier this year - as his favoured European market.

"I'm not panicking. The issues with Argentina and Ukraine seem quite specific to those countries but in Europe itself, the economic data is telling us that we're still in this slow rebound and recovery mode," said Lilley.

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