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Europe shares hit 2-month low

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares hit two-month lows on Friday after hefty falls in the previous day, with growing worries about sovereign debt situation in the euro zone and anxiety ahead of a key U.S. jobs data hurting sentiment.

At 8:11 a.m., the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares fell 0.6 percent to 986.68 points after touching 986.40 -- the lowest since early December of last year. The index slipped 2.8 percent in the previous session, its biggest one-day percentage fall in 10 weeks.

Banks were among the top losers, with Standard Chartered, Barclays, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale falling 0.9 to 2.5 percent.

“It’s clear that the market is shifting from extremely risk-loving to once again becoming risk-averse and this is an environment to be extremely cautious,” said Philippe Gijsels, senior equity strategist at BNP Paribas Fortis in Brussels.

“We are clearly in a correction mode. If U.S. job figures are good, the market could see some bounce from oversold levels,” he added.

Investors traded cautiously ahead of the U.S. non-farm payrolls data, due at 1330 GMT, for fresh clues on the extent of economic recovery in the country. A Reuters survey predicted non-farm payrolls grew 5,000 in January after a surprise 85,000 drop in December.

Worries over euro zone peripheral countries’ fiscal health have sent shockwaves through global financial markets. The International Monetary Fund has offered to help Greece, though Athens has said it will not ask the IMF for assistance.

Miners came under pressure as metals prices slipped. BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Eurasian Natural Resources fell 0.7 to 2.2 percent.

British gas producer BG Group fell 2.9 percent after the company reported a 38 percent drop in fourth quarter profits.

Reporting by Atul Prakash

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