LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - European shares suffered steep
falls on Monday as mounting political uncertainty in the
peripheral euro zone prompted investors to lock in profits on
indexes trading close to multi-year highs.
The FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally ended down 1.4
percent at 1,151.73 points, its lowest close since Dec. 31,
having hit a near two-year peak of 1,178.55 points towards the
end of January in a rally that saw it rise nearly 8 percent from
a November trough.
A corruption scandal in Spain and polls showing Italy's
former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi regaining ground ahead
of elections this month triggered fresh concern over the
potential hit to euro zone stability and growth.
That pushed peripheral bond yields higher and prompted some
heavy profit taking on euro zone banks, down 4.8
percent, Spain's IBEX, off 3.9 percent, and Italy's FTSE
MIB, down 4.5 percent.
Yves Maillot, head of European equities at Natixis Asset
Management, which has 286.5 billion euros ($392.4 billion) of
assets under management, said the fall should be viewed as a
pause rather than the start of a serious sell-off, and was
therefore a buying opportunity.
"For many weeks now we've had very positive performances so
that's the reason why we maybe need a correction in the very
short term," he said.