European shares slip in first session of the year
* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.8 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 1.6 pct
* Soft Chinese, French macro data prompt profit taking
* Fiat surges 16 percent after buying out Chrysler
PARIS, Jan 2 (Reuters) - European stocks slipped on Thursday as soft Chinese and French manufacturing data prompted investors to start new year trading by cashing in a portion of the lofty gains made in 2013.
Shares in Italian automaker Fiat bucked the trend, soaring 16 percent in volumes more than six times the stock's daily average, after it struck a $4.35 billion deal to gain full control of U.S. carmaker Chrysler without raising fresh funds.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares, which gained 16 percent in 2013, ended its first session of 2014 down 0.8 percent at 1,305.59 points. The drop was bigger in the euro zone, with the blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index losing 1.6 percent, to 3,059.93 points.
"It's a wave of profit taking. We're back to reality after the year-end rally," FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron said.
"All the positive catalysts have been priced in already while people were also happy to just forget about the negative factors, so today's macro data is a bit of a wake-up call."
Investors were rattled by data showing China's final HSBC/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) falling to a three-month low of 50.5 in December from 50.8 in November, cementing the view that growth in the world's second-biggest economy slowed in the final quarter of 2013.
In Europe, Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 52.7 in December from November's 51.6, although French manufacturing activity shrank at the fastest rate in seven months in December, to 47.0.
"For investors looking for short-selling ideas, the CAC 40 seems like a good one to sell," FXCM's Cheron said.
Shares in the utilities sector featured among the biggest losers, led by Germany's RWE, down 3.6 percent on concerns over a potential capital increase.
Shares in RWE tumbled 15 percent in 2013 - the worst performance among euro zone blue chips and strongly underperforming a 25.5 percent rise by Germany's DAX index - as the utility sector suffered from weak demand and a sharp drop in wholesale power prices.
Around Europe on Thursday, Britain's FTSE 100 index fell 0.5 percent while both Germany's DAX index and France's CAC 40 lost 1.6 percent.
But Robert Quinn, chief European equity strategist at Standard & Poor's, said: "We're only down a fraction of a percent, and because we've had such a strong run up, I don't see any cause for concern."
Asset returns in 2013:
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