European shares touch one-month low, energy shares slip

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - European equities hit a one-month low on the first day of the quarter on Friday as Zurich Insurance fell sharply after its shares traded without the attraction of its latest dividend payout, and energy stocks tracked weaker oil prices.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.5 percent, its lowest level in a month, extending the previous session’s losses of 1 percent. The benchmark index fell 7.7 percent in the first quarter.

The European Insurance sector fell 2 percent, the top sectoral decliner, after shares in Zurich Insurance fell nearly 9 percent as its stocks traded ex-dividend.

Energy stocks dropped 1.7 percent as a decline in crude oil prices put pressure on companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, down 2.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively.

On the positive side, shares in Thyssenkrupp rose 5.4 percent after German business paper Rheinische Post reported that India’s Tata Steel was planning to take a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s European steel unit.

Investors’ focus will also be on U.S. payrolls jobs data later in the day as any sign of strength in wages might revive the risk of higher U.S. interest rates. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)