European shares ended the first day of trading in 2008 on a negative note Wednesday, as worries over global growth -- exacerbated by evidence of a contraction in U.S. manufacturing -- overshadowed news of consolidation in the banking sector.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed down 1.2 percent at 1,488.1, having ended last year with its worst performance since 2002.
Recently battered banks lead losses in Europe, even as news that Alliance &
Leicester held tentative takeover talks with Spain's Santander boosted the British mortgage bank's shares and helped Britain's FTSE-100 index to outperform other European markets.
Around Europe, Germany's DAX closed down 1.5 percent, France's CAC 40 ended 1.1 percent lower and Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent.