* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 0.5 percent
* Tech shares down 1.6 pct, tracks Nasdaq sell-off
* Charts signal further weakness in near term
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 14 European shares extended losses
on Monday, with a major index slipping to its lowest level in
three weeks, as fresh tension in Ukraine prompted investors to
shun cyclical sectors such as travel, autos and technology.
Charts also pointed to a bearish outlook in the near term
and the broader market remained vulnerable to further sell-offs,
technical analysts said.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down
0.5 percent at 1,305.78 points by 1017 GMT, after falling as low
as 1,301.98, its weakest since late March. The index fell 3
percent last week, and analysts said the trouble in Ukraine
could prevent it from bouncing back anytime soon.
Cyclicals lost ground, with the STOXX Europe 600 Travel and
Leisure index down 2.3 percent, tech shares
falling 1.9 percent and autos down 1.8 percent.
However, losses were capped by a rise in some defensive
sectors, such as personal and household goods and food
and beverages, which were up more than 1 percent.
"Geopolitical concerns are putting pressure on equities,"
said Christian Stocker, an equity strategist at UniCredit in
Munich. "Markets fear an escalation in tension will result in
more economic sanctions on Russia and that will have a negative
repercussion on Europe."
Ukraine gave pro-Russian separatists a deadline to disarm or
face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation". The UN's Security
Council met in emergency session.
Several firms exposed to Russia fell. Finnish tyre maker
Nokian Renkaat, Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank
International, UniCredit, Italy's biggest
bank by assets, and Belgian financial group KBC lost
from 1.8 to 3.5 percent.
Nokian Renkaat, Raiffeisen, UniCredit and KBC get 14 to 26
percent of their revenues from Russia. For a factbox on European
firms most exposed to Russia, click on
Germany's benchmark DAX index, which includes
several companies with significant exposure to Russia, lagged
the wider market, falling 0.7 percent.
The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index
declined 0.7 percent to 3,094.87 points, with charts signalling
that the index could fall further.
"Although the slope of the 200-day moving average remains up
at this juncture, the Euro STOXX 50 index has turned down from
the up-channel resistance line stretching back to 2011 and the
move below support around 3,150 is another worry for bulls,"
said Murray Gunn, the head of technical analysis at HSBC.
The index could find support around 2,971 points. On the
upside, 3,196 is considered a strong resistance level.
Among sectors, the STOXX Europe 600 tech index fell
1.6 percent, taking its losses since early April to more than 6
percent on concern that valuations have become stretched.
Tech stocks are the most expensive in Europe, according to
Thomson Reuters Datastream. They trade at around 19 times their
12-month forward earnings, against a 10-year average of about 16
times and the STOXX 600's price-earnings ratio of 14.
Ericsson fell 4.2 percent and ARM Holdings
2.2 percent, mirroring losses on the Nasdaq, which ended
on Friday below 4,000 for the first time since early February.
Among other sharp movers, Greece's largest lender, National
Bank, fell 14 percent, making it the biggest decliner
on the FTSEurofirst 300. A banker told Reuters on Saturday the
bank might tap international markets with a share offering as
part of plans to plug a capital shortfall.
Despite recent jitters on Wall Street and simmering tensions
in Ukraine, investors have continued to pour money into European
equities. They attracted more than $1 billion in the week ended
April 9, according to EPFR Global data.
(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by