PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - European shares fell early on Monday following tepid Chinese manufacturing data and as bets increase on the U.S. Federal Reserve starting to wind down stimulus at this week’s policy-setting meeting.
At 0808 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.14 percent at 1,240.99 points, extending its sharp two-week pullback.
Recent U.S. data showing growth in jobs, retail sales, services and overall output in the economy - combined with last week’s breakthrough budget deal in Washington - has fuelled speculation that the Fed will announce a reduction to its $85-billion a month in bond purchases on Wednesday.
That has prompted investors to book profits on risky assets, which have strongly benefited from the central bank’s massive liquidity injection. The FTSEurofirst 300, which was up 15 percent on the year at the end of November, has dropped about 4.8 percent since then.
Also hitting sentiment on Monday, data signalled growth in activity in China’s vast factory sector slowed to a three-month low in December.
Telecom stocks bucked the weaker market trend, with Deutsche Telekom up 3 percent, boosted by expectations of further consolidation in the sector after reports U.S. telecom firm Sprint Corp is mulling a takeover of rival T-Mobile US.