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European shares tumble on grim data

EUROPEAN shares closed lower on Friday, with drug makers and oil firms falling, after unemployment and services-sector figures from the United States provided further evidence of recession.

The pan-European FTSEuro-first 300 index of top shares fell 1.3 percent to close at 771.6 points. The index rose 4.6 percent over the week, and is up 19.5 percent from its lifetime low on March 9.

The US economy lost 663,000 jobs in March, government data showed, compared with Reuters forecasts of 650,000. The unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent, in line with forecasts.

"After the euphoria of the G20, some economic reality has kicked in," said Philip Lawlor, chief portfolio strategist at Nomura, in London.

"We had a good run and some people have decided to lock profits in."

"The numbers weren't a huge shock, with the ADP data having given us a good steer on Wednesday," said David Evans, market analyst at

There was worse news to come. Business activity in the US services sector shrank for a sixth straight month in March, compared with economists' forecasts for a rise.

As European bourses were closing, the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were down between 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent.

European drug makers were among the biggest losers.

AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and Roche were down between 2.4 percent and 4.6 percent.

The oil sector also retreated with crude prices down nearly 3 percent at just over US$51 a barrel.

BP, BG Group, Total, ENI and Statoil fell between 2.3 percent and 4 percent.


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