* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1.4 pct
* Tech the top sectoral faller, echoing U.S., Japan
* Volatility ticks up
* Russia tensions rumble on, crimping appetite
(Adds quotes, detail, updates prices)
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, April 11 European shares slid at the
open on Friday to leave them set for their first weekly loss in
a month, tracking steep falls in Asian and U.S. stocks as
equities came under pressure globally.
Technology stocks led sectoral falls with a 2.6
percent decline, echoing moves in the United States, where the
tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 posted its biggest drop in two and
half years, while the Japanese Nikkei tumbled to
Volatility, which measures the price that investors
are willing to pay to protect against future falls and thus is
seen as a gauge of unease in the market, ticked up 8.2 percent,
having fallen after dovish noises from the U.S. Federal Reserve
temporarily stabilised markets on Wednesday.
The tech sector in Europe had rallied over 40 percent from
the beginning of November 2012 to the start of April this year.
"It felt a bit panicky last night in the U.S., and it's been
led by tech, as that's where the valuations have become the
richest," Gerard Lane, equity strategist Shore Capital, said.
"Maybe people have realised that buying tech stocks that
make little money at these levels is not sensible."
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 fell 1.4 percent
to 1,312.37, with no sectors in positive territory.
The falls left the index down 2.9 percent for the week and
set for its first weekly fall in a month. A rally in the three
weeks prior to this one had seen the FTSEurofirst 300 post its
highest close since May 2008.
"We've recently taken a little bit out of equities. We like
equities as an asset class in the medium term, but we have seen
a bit of a retreat in the market recently," Pechlaner said
Veronika Pechlaner, who helps manage $13 billion of assets at
Ashburton Investments, said.
"During the first quarter when the market came back
strongly, we decided to lock in some of our gains that we made
in a good fourth quarter. It might be a little bit early to talk
about redeploying that."
Political tension further dampened investor appetite after
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the country's gas
supplies to Europe could be disrupted if Moscow cut the flow to
Ukraine over unpaid bills, drawing a U.S. accusation that it was
using energy "as a tool of coercion".
Shares in European blue-chips with the biggest exposure to
Russia underperformed, with Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank
International down 2.3 percent after its parent bank
Raiffeisen Zentralbank reported a fall in its capital ratio.
Thales slid for a second straight day, down 4
percent, after JP Morgan downgraded Europe's largest defence
electronics company to "neutral" from "buy" following a company
investor day on Thursday.
"Thales' assumptions on sales and cost reduction through to
2017-18 were weaker than we expected... With the shares up 47
percent in the last 12 months, we see now see limited near-term
upside," analysts at JP Morgan said in a note.
The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 fell 1.1 percent to
3,116.77 points, and from a technical perspective the index
"The gap down this morning below the 20-day simple moving
average warns of an abundance of sellers... As long as 3,153 is
resistance, the risk of a break below the support at 3,105
remains high," Nicolas Suiffet, technical analyst at Trading
"Only a clear break above 3,153 would reinstate a positive
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by John Stonestreet)