December 8, 2014 / 9:23 AM / 3 years ago

European shares fall after soft data from China and Japan

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct, trims Friday’s gains

* Italy’s credit downgrade weighs on sentiment

* Energy shares drop again as Brent slips below $69

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, Dec 8 (Reuters) - European shares fell early on Monday, trimming some of the previous session’s sharp gains after soft macro data from China and Japan.

At 0900 GMT the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,401.34 points, having surged 1.8 percent on Friday after much better than expected U.S. monthly jobs data.

Also weighing on sentiment on Monday was S&P’s Friday cut to Italy’s sovereign credit rating from BBB to BBB-, only one notch above junk, citing weak growth and poor competitiveness that undermine the sustainability of its huge public debt.

“The euphoria from Friday’s U.S. payrolls is dissipating; we’re seeing a bit of profit-taking,” Saxo Bank trader Pierre Martin said.

“Italy’s downgrade is a good reminder that Europe is far from being out of the woods. Even if the ECB is pro-active, there are a lot of issues still to be resolved.”

Shares in Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Mediobanca lost 0.4 percent.

China’s exports rose 4.7 percent in November from a year earlier, while imports dropped 6.7 percent, well below expectations and adding to concerns that the world’s second-largest economy could be facing a sharper slowdown.

Japan’s economy shrank more than initially reported in the third quarter on declines in business investment.

Energy shares fell again as Brent dropped to below $69 a barrel after Morgan Stanley cut its forecast for crude and the market received little support from China’s trade data.

ENI was down 1.4 percent and Royal Dutch Shell slipped by 0.9 percent.

Seadrill bucked the trend, rising 6.4 percent after the company’s chairman and largest shareholder, billionaire investor John Fredriksen, increased his stake in the group to 23.9 percent.

The recent drop in crude prices has forced a number of oil services companies, including Seadrill, to scrap dividends as oil majors accelerate cost-cutting efforts.

The STOXX oil and gas index has tumbled about 23 percent since June, wiping roughly $240 billion off market capitalisation, more than the entire market value of Shell, Europe’s biggest oil major, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Europe bourses in 2014:

Asset performance in 2014:

Today’s European research round-up (Editing by David Goodman)

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