* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.9 pct
* Both benchmark indexes hit one-month lows
* Russia-exposed stocks hit again as sanctions talk builds
* Europe big winner of emerging market exodus -Amundi CIO
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, March 12 European shares fell on
Wednesday, sending benchmark indexes to one-month lows, as
mounting worries over China's economic growth rate and
persistent tensions in Ukraine spooked investors.
Shares in big exporters were among the hardest hit, with
German industrial conglomerate Siemens down 2.2
percent and BASF, the world's fifth-largest
agrochemicals and seeds maker, sliding 1.9 percent.
A sharp sell-off in metals prices - with copper sinking to
levels not seen since July 2010 - also rattled investors. The
metal usually reflects the world's economic health due to its
broad industrial uses, which range from construction to
electricity supply to automobiles.
Copper's slump followed China's first domestic bond default,
which has sparked worries about a possible unravelling of many
Chinese loan deals which have used the metal as collateral.
"Markets are on red-alert for the possibility that we'll see
more and bigger defaults as time passes," said Jeremy
Batstone-Carr, analyst at Charles Stanley. "The bigger concern
is that wound up in these defaults is the threat of a Chinese
slowdown over and above that which is pencilled in."
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
ended 1.1 percent lower, at 1,307.26 points.
The index had briefly extended its losses in afternoon
trade, falling by as much as 1.5 percent to a one-month low as
investors were rattled by the collapse of a building in a
largely residential block of Upper Manhattan in New York.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
lost 0.9 percent at 3,065.46 points.
Continued tensions in Ukraine also hit sentiment, as
European Union states agreed the wording of sanctions on Russia,
including travel restrictions and asset freezes against those
responsible for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine.
Shares of companies most exposed to Russia were among the
biggest losers, with Finnish tyre maker Nokian Renkaat
down 2.7 percent, Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank
International dropping 2.8 percent, and Danish brewer
Carlsberg losing 1 percent.
The three firms derive 26 percent, 22 percent and 17 percent
respectively of their revenues from Russia, according to data
Despite the recent slide, analysts and fund managers
remained positive on the outlook for European stocks, which
should continue to benefit from strong investment inflows as
economic growth is expected to pick up.
"Europe is one of the big winners of the recent flight out
of emerging markets, and these trends in flows are usually quite
long term as investors such as sovereign funds usually invest
with a time horizon of 10 years," said Pascal Blanque, chief
investment officer at Amundi, which has 777 billion euros ($1.08
trillion) under management.
Europe bourses in 2014:
Asset performance in 2014:
Today's European research round-up