European shares fall, investor fear gauge hits 4-month high

Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:07am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1.4 percent at 1,116.64

* VSTOXX fear gauge hits highest level since Feb.

* Worries grow over credit tightening in China

* Miners fall as GS cuts China growth

By David Brett

LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) - Miners led a tumble in European stocks on Monday, with one gauge of investor concern hitting a four-month high on mounting worries over China's banking system and the economic outlook for a stimulus-lite world.

By 1032 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 16.04 points or 1.4 percent at 1,116.64. The index is now down about 11 percent from the year's May 23 high of 1,258.09.

The Euro STOXX 50 Volatility index, known as the VSTOXX and a widely used European gauge of investor concern, rose 3.4 percent to 24.86, a level not seen since late February. A rise in volatility usually coincides with a fall in equities.

European shares have lost upward momentum and bond yields have been rising since Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that the United States would likely begin scaling back its stimulus later this year.

"We continue to expect low equity returns for the foreseeable future... Investors lack good trends at both the macro and micro levels," Deutsche Bank's CROCI team said.

The team said a rise in bond yields will continue to have negative effects on commodities and emerging markets, but it remains bullish on the medium-term outlook for global equities.

Mining stocks sank as copper fell to a 21-month low, with traders citing fears that demand would remain weak, pressured by growth concerns and a tightening in credit supply in China.

"The bears are in control. You're looking at a credit crunch situation in China," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.

Concerns over lending in China contributed to Goldman Sachs cutting its GDP forecasts for the country for 2013 and 2014.

Goldman Sachs said: "The recent tightening of the interbank market has sent a strong policy signal that the strong credit growth earlier in the year will likely not continue."

Miners, which rely heavily on strong demand from the world's biggest consumer of raw materials, shed 1.6 percent.

Kazakh-focused miner Kazakhmys fell 8.4 percent as it ratified a bid of around 3 billion pounds for ENRC, in which it is a major shareholder, by a trio of ENRC founders, which was unchanged in structure from a proposal first tabled in May.

Falling equity markets and rising bond yields, which can erode the value of assets on a balance sheet, continue to hurt financials, with Aberdeen Asset Management down 2.2 percent.

Erste Group Bank slid 8.9 percent after it went back on a promise and announced a share issue to shore up its finances.

Telecoms featured prominently on the upside as heavyweight Vodafone struck its biggest deal since 2007, agreeing to buy Germany's largest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland , for 7.7 billion euros.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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