Europe Shares to Open Lower on Euro Crisis Fears

European stocks were expected to open lower on Monday following a further downgrade of Greece's credit rating by rating agency Fitch and after Standard and Poor's decision at the weekend to revise its outlook for Italy to "negative" from "stable".

Ahead of the open, futures for Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 were down 0.9 to 1 percent as riskier assets were sold off.

The DAX was indicated to open 100 points lower in response to eurozone jitters.

Fuse | Getty Images

Italy will maintain it's A+ rating, but reports of a poor showing by Spain's ruling Socialists in local elections coupled with ratings downgrades are likely to fuel investor concerns over the euro zone's ability to cope with the debt crisis , according to analysts and market watchers.

The euro dropped to a record low against the Swiss franc amid fresh euro zone fears and the FTSE ended 0.13 percent lower on Friday, but there were gains for BP which rose 2.7 percent on news that the oil giant would share the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill with partner Mitsui & Co.

Ryanair shares were down by 1 percent following the announcement that growth will remain flat in 2012 due to rising fuel costs and a lack of growth in capacity.

On the economic front, manufacturing data is due to be released in France at 8 am London time and in Germany at 8:30, with euro zone data following at 9:00.

In politics, US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will visit Dublin on the first day of their European tour, with the US President also expected to travel to the Moneygall birthplace of one of his ancestors.

Obama will then travel to to the UK on an official state visit, where he and the First Lady will be guests of the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

In Italy, the next hearing in the bribery trial of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will get underway in Milan where Mr Berlusconi is accused of paying his former British lawyer to provide false evidence during two trials in 1997 and 1998.