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Latest update : 2008-12-02

European shares kept up the previous session's downard trend as London, Frankfurt and Paris each shed around 1% in morning trade. Earlier, Asian stocks closed down more than 5%, dragged down by news of a recession in the US.

European shares fell early on Tuesday, led by banks and commodity shares, and adding to the previous session's slump as nervous investors digested news of more global central bank action to rescue weakening economies.


At 0855 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index index of top European shares was down 1.2 percent at 800.21 points, extending Monday's 6 percent fall.


Banks and oils took the most points off the index on Tuesday.

HSBC was the top-weighted loser, falling 2.8 percent, while Banco Santander lost 1.7 percent and BNP Paribas fell 3.4 percent.


Oil fell nearly 3 percent to trade below $48 a barrel, sending shares in BP down 1.2 percent, BG down 3.8 percent and Total down 1.4 percent.

Analysts said tough times lay ahead.


"Equities will have a rough ride at the start of December, and this will continue until we see a ray of hope on the macro side," said Franz Wenzel, strategist at AXA Investment Managers in Paris.


"There's no help from valuations in this environment, and I don't expect a year-end rally. I believe we saw one in the last two weeks but that is melting like the snow in the sun."

Underlining the tough macro environment, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its cash rate by 100 basis points and the Bank of Japan moved to ease an acute cash crunch for companies.


The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are due to announce rate decisions on Thursday.


Wenzel said he expected the ECB to cut by 75 basis points, or even 100.


"I wouldn't be surprised if they went for 100 basis points to signal a red alert, and that would provide a ray of hope," he said.


Across Europe, Britain's FTSE fell 1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 0.8 percent and France's CAC shed 1.1 percent.


Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields traded near five-decade lows after a big market rally the previous day when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signalled that the central bank could buy government and agency bonds.


The FTSEurofirst 300 has fallen 7.9 percent in the first two trading days of the month, suggesting that December will round off in similar vein what has been a horrific year for equities.


The index fell 7.2 percent in November, held up slightly by a mini-rally, but it lost nearly 13 percent in October and 11 percent in September.

It has fallen for nine of the last 11 months, and is down 47 percent on the year after posting gains in every year over the period 2003-2007.


The equities sell-off was sparked by a meltdown in risky U.S. mortgages. This led to massive losses at big banks and tipped leading economies into recession.


The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research's business cycle dating committee said that the U.S. economy slipped into recession in December 2007.


Shares in mining groups, considered hostage to economic ups and downs, fell sharply.


Rio Tinto, Xstrata and BHP Billiton fell 5-6 percent.


British retailer Tesco rose 7 percent after the company met forecasts with a 2 percent rise in underlying UK sales and said its new discount range was helping boost sales volumes and customer numbers.

Date created : 2008-12-02