Gloomy French data hits European shares, Iraq keeps oil high

Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:24am EDT
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By Nigel Stephenson

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares fell on Monday after euro zone business activity data showed growth slowing, with France a notable laggard, in contrast with upbeat numbers from China that lifted Asian shares and the Australian dollar.

Brent crude oil prices topped $115 a barrel on concerns that unrest in Iraq, where Sunni insurgents seized control of strongholds along the Syrian border over the weekend, could disrupt supply. [O/R]

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 stocks index .FTEU3 fell 0.3 percent, although it held close to Friday's 6-1/2-year high.

Wall Street looked set for a flat open ESc1. The S&P 500 .SPX and Dow Jones .DJI closed at record highs on Friday.

"The market doesn't like at all the French PMIs, and the German data is also disappointing. It eclipses the upbeat Chinese data from overnight and it's a reminder that the latest ECB measures are not magic," Saxo Bank trader Andrea Tueni said.

The euro zone's flash composite purchasing managers' index fell to 52.8 in June, below forecast, from 53.5 in May, data provider Markit said.

"The overall picture is one of fairly sluggish growth as opposed to any rip-roaring acceleration," Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said.

Earlier, the corresponding number for France fell to 48.0 from May's 49.3. slipping further below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. Germany's PMI showed its private sector expanded for the 14th consecutive month in June.   Continued...

The curve of the German share price index DAX board, is pictured at the Frankfurt stock exchange June 19, 2014.    REUTERS/Remote/Stringer