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LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Friday, erasing earlier gains after an unexpected contraction in UK manufacturing fuelled concerns about global economic heath, chiming in with weak numbers from China and the looming U.S. budget cuts.
The UK Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 47.9 from a downwardly revised 50.5 in January, confounding forecasts for a rise to 51.0.
The release, coupled with higher-than-expected euro zone unemployment figures and a weak Italian PMI prompted equity markets to turn around from early, jittery gains, which had been fuelled by new month investment inflows.
By 1011 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.8 percent at 1,162.28 points, while EuroSTOXX 50 index lost 1.1 percent.