LONDON Feb 5 European shares slipped for a fourth straight session on Wednesday, with concerns about earnings and the pace of global economic recovery prompting investors to further trim their equity exposure.
Syngenta, the world's largest maker of crop chemicals, fell 1.5 percent after saying it planned to step up its focus on costs after reporting an 11 percent drop in full-year profit.
"Earnings growth in Europe has been negative over the last two years. If earnings do not improve during the next months, 2014 will prove to be a difficult year for the stock market," Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC, in Brussels, said.
Investors' focus this week will be on the euro zone's retail sales and services PMI data and results from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday, the European Central Bank's interest rate decision on Thursday and widely-watched U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has fallen in seven out of the past nine sessions and is down nearly 7 percent since hitting a 5-1/2-year high two weeks ago, was down 0.3 percent at 1,267.24 points by 0809 GMT.