(ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report for more details)
* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 1.5 percent
* Energy shares track weaker crude oil prices
* Osram falls after Apple drops from supplier list
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - European equities hit a one-month low on the first trading day of the quarter on Friday, with energy stocks tracking weaker oil prices and Osram leading the personal goods sector lower after it was dropped from Apple’s top supplier list.
Sentiment also stayed bearish after a survey showed that although euro zone factories rounded off the first quarter in slightly better shape than initially thought, growth in activity remained weak despite the deepest price-cutting since late 2009.
The STOXX Europe 600 Personal and Household Goods sector fell 1.8 percent, with Osram dropping 3.6 percent after the company was no longer one of Apple’s top 200 suppliers in 2015, according to a list published by the Silicon Valley phone and computer maker.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.5 percent to its lowest level in a month, extending the previous session’s loss of 1 percent. The benchmark index fell 7.7 percent in the first quarter.
“We are witnessing a tough start for the second quarter,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets. “Oil majors are weighing this morning as oil prices languish around recent pull-back lows.”
Energy stocks dropped 1.7 percent as a decline in crude oil prices put pressure on companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, down 2.3 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
The broader market also came under pressure as companies such as Zurich Insurance, SKF and Elisa , down 3.0 to 8.5 percent, traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts.
Some analysts said that the broader market was likely to remain under selling pressure in the near term.
“Overall sentiment is neutral, whilst more downside is possible and major ‘technical’ support lines might still need to be tested,” Markus Huber, trader at City of London Markets, said. “Lower prices are also increasing the likelihood of bargain-hunting, especially at the beginning of a new quarter.”
On the positive side, miners outperformed, with the sector index rising 0.2 percent after metals prices gained following unexpected growth in China’s manufacturing activity in March, the in nine months.
Shares in Thyssenkrupp rose 6.6 percent after German business paper Rheinische Post reported that India’s Tata Steel was planning to take a stake in Thyssenkrupp’s European steel unit.
Investor focus will also be on U.S. payrolls jobs data later in the day, as any sign of strength in wages might revive the risk of higher U.S. interest rates.
European research round-up:
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Editing by David Holmes)