Europe Markets

Euro Shares End Lower, Tech Stocks Drag


European shares ended lower on Monday, breaking a three-day winning streak, as techs and telecoms weighed and offset the impact of surprisingly strong U.S. service sector figures.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European stocks ended unofficially down 0.3 percent at 1,357.23 points. With UK markets closed for a public holiday, volumes were thin.

Tech stocks weighed after Microsoft walked away from a bid for Yahoo. Chip equipment maker ASML lost 1.9 percent, while in the telecoms sector, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Nokia lost 1.1-2.3 percent.

Stocks got a brief fillip from data that showed the U.S. service sector grew unexpectedly in April, snapping a three-month period of contraction, and adding to signs that the United States might skirt a recession.

But oil hitting a record above $120 a barrel weighed on the broader market.

Investor focus moves to a heavy earnings day on Tuesday, when Swiss bank UBS, among the lenders worst hit by a global credit crisis, is expected to report a big first-quarter loss.

"The earnings season has been mixed with some pronounced positives and some negatives. All in all one might say the earnings development has not been as bad as one feared, given the macro backdrop," said Tammo Greetfeld, strategist at UniCredit in Munich, Germany.

"But the combination of the outlook statements and the expected macro data should not be good enough to give equity markets a lasting positive stimulus from current levels," he added.