UPDATE 1-European Factors to Watch-Weak China data set to weigh on shares
(Adds futures prices, company news items)
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - European equity index futures fell on Monday, with new signs of a possible economic slowdown in China - the world's second largest economy - expected to weigh on the region's stock markets.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 futures contract fell 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX futures weakened by 0.5 percent while France's CAC futures fell 0.6 percent.
Asian shares gave up earlier gains on Monday after the China HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to an eight-month low in March.
The preliminary reading of 48.1 fell from February's final reading of 48.5, while the "flash" March index also showed that new orders slid for a fourth consecutive month to 46.9 - its lowest point since July 2013, while output fell to 47.3, the lowest since September 2012.
Some traders cited speculation that the Chinese central bank could undertake stimulus measures in order to prop up the country's economy, but they added that for now, the weak nature of the PMI numbers was overriding any prospect of a Chinese central bank cash injection.
"It seems the markets are reacting more to the negativity of numbers rather than the potential cash injection," said Alpari UK chief market analyst James Hughes.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.1 percent to 1,307.24 points on Friday, enabling it to notch up a gain of 1.8 percent last week, which was its best weekly gain in a month.
Euro zone PMI economic data is due out on Monday, and a Reuters poll last week predicted that European stocks will extend their rally this year, fuelled by a long-awaited rebound in corporate profits as the region's economy picks up and global investors shift from emerging markets to Europe. Continuación...