European shares slip on Cyprus concerns

LONDON, March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:13am EDT

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - European shares dipped at the open on Thursday, with investors remaining jittery over Cyprus's debt crisis, which outweighed a pick-up in Chinese factory activity and a commitment by the U.S. Federal Reserve towards its stimulus programme.

The FTSEurofirst 300 was 0.1 percent lower at 1,197.18 by 0808 GMT.

Cyprus's crisis still preyed on investors' minds, with the island's government endeavouring to avert a financial meltdown and ordering banks to stay shut until next week, after the debt-stricken country rejected the terms of a European Union bailout.

Strong macro data from China, showing a pick-up in growth in the country's vast manufacturing sector, and a statement from the Fed, which said it would stick to its $85 billion monthly bond-buying stimulus, helped keep a check on losses.

"I think (Cyprus) is very much just a stumbling block and nothing else. I really don't think it's going to stop the market and I don't see a big sell-off on the back of it at all," said Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities.

"Personally I think things like China are much more important."