European shares sink as recession risk fears hit home

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March 25 (Reuters) - European shares opened deep in the red on Monday, adding to the worst weekly fall of the year last week after disappointing economic data in Europe and the United States stoked fears of recession.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.6 percent, extending three days of declines, with France’s CAC 40 leading losses with an almost 1 percent initial fall before steadying.

Germany’s DAX, hammered on Friday by a manufacturing sector survey which pointed to the risk of outright recession in the continent’s biggest economy, fell 0.3 percent as investors ditched equities and switched into safe-haven assets.

London’s FTSE fell 0.5 percent.

Investors are also dealing with the uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, with the risk of a potentially major “no-deal” shock to the European economy still only just over two weeks away.

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to give a date for leaving office as the price to swing Brexit-supporting rebel lawmakers in her party behind her twice-defeated European Union divorce treaty.

Riskier assets were dumped worldwide after dour surveys in the U.S. and euro zone on Friday sent benchmark U.S. 10-year interest rates below three-month rates for the first time since 2007, an inversion that has in the past signaled an upcoming recession.

Among those leading losses was Germany’s Bayer, down 2.6 percent. Over the weekend its chief executive said management retained the backing of its supervisory board despite a second U.S. ruling that is glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

British satellite operator Inmarsat by contrast jumped 7.5 percent to lead gains on the main European index after a private equity-led consortium agreed to buy the company for about $3.4 billion in cash.

Losses elsewhere were broad-based, led by a roughly 1 percent decline in each of the technology, retail and industrial goods and services sectors.

Sanofi fell 0.4 percent after the U.S. FDA declined to approve a drug developed with Lexicon Pharmaceuticals for use with insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Luxury goods maker Hermes International fell more than 3 percent before steadying after a Credit Suisse rating downgrade to neutral added to the bleak mood.

PSA, up last week on merger speculation, lost 1 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported that Fiat Chrysler had rebuffed approaches earlier this year. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru Editing by Keith Weir)