* FTSEurofirst 300 index down 2.1 percent, extending fall
* Short selling concerns persist
* SABMiller down as outlook disappoints
* For up-to-the minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU] By Brian Gorman
LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - European shares were sharply lower at midday on Thursday, extending the previous session’s steep fall, on persistent concern other euro zone countries will follow Germany in banning short selling in certain instruments.
At 1132 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index was down 2.1 percent at 975.72 points, and had gone as low as 974.86 points, its lowest in nearly two weeks. The index is down more than 12 percent since sovereign debt worries in the euro zone escalated in mid-April.
The markets tumbled on Wednesday in response to Germany’s move to ban naked short selling of some financial assets, and its unilateral action raised concerns that EU governments were divided over their approach to the turbulent markets.
“There is a rumour of the short selling ban being extended in the euro zone,” a trader said on Thursday.
However, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde confirmed earlier that France would not be following a German move to ban the naked short-selling of sovereign debt.
The pan-European index had been up as much as 1 percent earlier in the session, but gains were pared across the sectors.
Miners were among the biggest fallers, as the dollar strengthened, hurting metals prices.
Bank of Ireland BKIR.I fell 11.5 percent after Morgan Stanley cut its price target to 1 euro from 1.8 euros.
“There was an effort to look at Europe as one region, but now you’re getting different countries doing different things. It’s fuelling uncertainty. Equities need certainty,” said Georgina Taylor, equity strategist, Legal & General Investment Management.
Among individual shares, British gas and electricity transmission network operator National Grid (NG.L) fell 7.8 percent after saying it was raising 3.2 billion pounds ($4.6 billion) in a rights issue to fund a sharp increase in investment.
SABMiller SAB.L sank 6.5 percent after saying it expected a recovery in consumer spending only towards the end of 2010 and reported a 17 percent rise in annual earnings which narrowly missed consensus forecasts.
Index heavyweight BP (BP.L) rose 0.7 percent after a further update on oil it is collecting from a spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Futures for the Dow Jones DJc1, S&P 500 SPc1 and Nasdaq NDc1 were down between 0.7 and 1 percent.
Weekly U.S. jobless data is due at 1230 GMT, an hour before Wall Street opens. (Editing by Mike Nesbit)