UPDATE 1-European shares knocked by U.S. weakness, mixed earnings

Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:50pm EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1 percent

* Nokia slides after sales miss

* U.S., China misses take sheen off of strong euro zone data

* Periphery outperforms, led by Portugal, Sabadell

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Thursday, pulled down by a double-digit fall in Nokia and weak U.S. and Chinese data which fed pessimism about global growth prospects and earnings.

Nokia dropped 10.7 percent after it reported a steep fall in sales at its network equipment division, which will be its core business once its sale of its phone business goes through.

It was joined at the bottom of the pan-European FTSEurofirst by British publisher Pearson, which dropped 8.2 percent after warning in a trading update its 2013 earnings per share would be lower than expected.

While European earnings were generally mixed, with Spanish bank Banco de Sabadell SA among those that delivered results above expectations, U.S. stocks fell on weaker-than- expected manufacturing and jobs data and earnings from U.S. firms like MacDonalds, dragging Europe lower in the afternoon.

Chinese manufacturing data earlier had already depressed the mining sector, which ended down 0.8 percent.

"With initial (U.S.) jobless claims rising slightly from the previous week and Chinese flash manufacturing PMI contracting for the first time in six months, investors will approach equity markets with increasing valuation concerns," Kash Kamal, research analyst at Sucden Financial, said.

That overshadowed news that Germany's private sector grew at its fastest pace in more than 2-1/2 years in January as factory orders flooded in, and that French business activity shrank less sharply than expected.

The FTSEurofirst 300 closed down 1.1 percent at 1,332.63, although some analysts said that more strong domestic data would support future gains.

"What is still very supportive is domestic macro momentum. This morning (we had) very strong PMIs in Europe, (and) as long as the macro is pointing up, the market's concerns about significant earnings downgrades to come will be easing," JPMorgan analyst Emmanuel Cau said.

Despite the weak performance of European stocks in general, the European periphery outperformed, with Portuguese blue chips down just 0.1 percent after the government said it met the target for its 2013 budget deficit.

Among the region's outperformers was Spain's Banco de Sabadell, up 6.1 percent after it tripled profits to beat expectations.

Today's European research round-up

Asset returns in 2013: