March 22, 2018 / 9:47 AM / a year ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Trade jitters send European shares to two-week low

(Corrects paragraph 2 to read “tariffs of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports”)

* STOXX 600 down 0.8 pct to 2-week low

* Tech biggest faller as U.S. tariffs on China loom

* Banks also suffer declines after less hawkish Fed

* Reckitt gains after pulling out of Pfizer bid race

By Helen Reid

LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - Concerns around trade sent European shares tumbling to a two-week low on Thursday as the United States prepared to announce hefty tariffs on Chinese imports, with tech stocks and banks the worst-performing.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign a presidential memorandum on tariffs of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports, at 1630 GMT.

Investors were also eyeing a European Council meeting, with the European Union aiming to secure an exemption from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium imports set to come into force on Friday.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.8 percent to its lowest level since March 7, while Germany’s exporter- and industrials-heavy DAX fell 1 percent.

Tech stocks were the worst hit, down 1.4 percent as tariffs on China were expected to target the high-tech sector.

Chipmakers ams, STMicro, and Infineon , which have led the recent tech stock rally and are firmly embedded in international supply chains, all fell.

Also anxiously awaited was the Bank of England’s policy meeting, where policymakers’ language would be dissected after the U.S. Fed surprised with less hawkish rate guidance.

Bank stocks, which benefit from a stronger pace of rate hikes, slipped 1.1 percent, with HSBC, ING and UBS among top fallers.

Deal developments and earnings continued to drive European stock moves.

Reckitt Benckiser shares shone, jumping 6 percent after the British consumer products firm pulled out of the bidding for Pfizer’s consumer health unit.

The move reflected relief in the market that Reckitt would avoid over-levering or issuing shares for the acquisition.

GlaxoSmithKline, now seen as having a better chance of buying the Pfizer business, declined 1 percent.

Disappointing 2017 results sent United Internet shares down 8 percent, the worst-performing tech stock. Subsidiary Drillisch fell 10.8 percent.

Also in tech, Ingenico suffered a 3 percent loss after Kepler Cheuvreux downgraded it, saying full-year guidance now looked “challenging”.

Tech and engineering consultancy Altran fell 3.1 percent after launching a share capital increase of 750 million euros.

The world’s no.2 cement maker Heidelberg Cement fell 1.7 percent, one of the worst declines on the DAX, after it announced a dividend slightly short of analysts’ average expectations.

Deutsche Bank declined 2 percent, still weak after sharp losses in the previous session when the bank’s finance chief said a strong euro and higher funding costs would have a 450 million euro impact on revenues.

Commerzbank tumbled 3.3 percent after a downgrade from Kepler Cheuvreux.

“We expect the bank to need a full +100 basis point rates increase in 2019 to reach its >6% return on total equity target as the revenue picture of the corporate client business is sorely disappointing,” wrote Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Tobias Lukesch.

Shares in Svenska Handelsbanken fell 9.4 percent as it traded ex-dividend.

Bayer fell 1.5 percent after Australian and EU regulators approved the firm’s takeover of Monsanto. “Halfway there,” wrote UBS analysts, adding all eyes were now on the U.S. Department of Justice, yet to approve the deal.

Overall, with results season drawing to a close, analysts were becoming more negative on the earnings outlook for European stocks.

Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Kit Rees and Richard Balmforth

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