* 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 (Reuters) - 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 six-month lows.
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 looked weak.
“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 Central, said.
“Only a clear break above 3,153 would reinstate a positive bias.”
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)