October 16, 2008 / 7:31 AM / 9 years ago

European shares fall 5.5 pct led by banks, miners

FRANKFURT, Oct 16 (Reuters) - European shares opened sharply lower on Thursday, tracking equity market losses in the United States and Asia, on growing concerns about a global economic slowdown.

By 0715 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was down 5.5 percent at 854.01 points. The benchmark fell 6.5 percent on Wednesday, having risen 10 percent on Monday and 3.1 percent on Tuesday.

“Put your helmet on and fasten seat-belt,” read the headline of a Commerzbank morning note to clients. “The sell-off in international equity markets continues,” Commerzbank said.

Shares in UBS UBSN.VX and Credit Suisse CSGN.VX fell by 6 percent and 8 percent respectively after news that Switzerland’s two largest banks will receive billions of Swiss francs in emergency funding from the country’s government and other investors to shore them up against the financial crisis.

Basic resources .SXPP, a sector which includes mining companies, fell 9 percent with Rio Tinto (RIO.L) down 10 percent and BHP Billiton (BLT.L) 9 percent lower.

“The situation on the financial markets remains tense,” German bank Helaba said in a note.

“Attention is increasingly shifting to the real economic consequences of the financial crisis, which are generating a fresh wave of uncertainty,” Helaba said. (Reporting by Peter Starck)

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