February 20, 2009 / 10:04 AM / 10 years ago

RPT-European stocks down 3 pct to six-year low

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PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - European stocks extended their hefty losses on Friday, tumbling to a six-year low as investors fretted about the prospect of more capital increases and bank nationalisations on the back of a deepening economic downturn.

At 0956 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was down 2.8 percent at 742.28 points, having hit a low of 739.12.

Saint-Gobain (SGOB.PA) tumbled 15 percent after the French building material group launched a surprise 1.5 billion euro rights issue, while UBS UBSN.VX plunged 16 percent after U.S. tax authorities said they were widening a probe into the Swiss bank and wanted 52,000 client names.

“We’re near the cliff’s edge, very close to capitulation, the mood is very gloomy,” said Jean-Claude Petit, head of equities at Barclays Wealth Managers France.

“I not sure that governments and central banks are realising what’s really going on,” he said.

Reporting by Blaise Robinson

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