* FTSEurofirst 300 touch lowest since Feb. 26
* Peugeot announces strategy, leads auto shares lower
* ThyssenKrupp falls after Vale deal confirmed (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) Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni and Alistair Smout
MILAN/LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Tuesday to touch their lowest level in almost six weeks, led lower by German stocks after industrial orders in Europe’s biggest economy unexpectedly dropped.
German industrial orders fell in February due to weaker foreign demand, suggesting a slowdown in the global economy was leaving its mark.
Other surveys found that French business activity had stagnated, German private-sector growth hit an eight-month low, while Italian services grow at their slowest rate for over a year.
“Economies aren’t in great shape,” said Manulife Asset Management investment analyst Will Hamlyn.
“There’s nervousness with the start of the quarter and there are a lot of concerns about growth.”
Germany’s DAX fell 2.3 percent, underperforming a 1.7 percent drop for the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 which earlier fell to its lowest level since Feb. 26.
Exporters and other globally-exposed stocks were hit across the region, with autos down 3.5 percent and mining stocks down 3.8 percent.
The French carmaker Peugeot fell 5.1 percent after outlining plans to return to consistent sales growth. Traders said that, while the plan would be hard work, it could help to turn the firm around.
“The guidance, to increase and stabilise margins from a low base, will be tough but achievable,” said Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers.
“The margin recovery story is in its infancy and we see the opportunity for this to be the key driver ... Overall, we remain positive.”
Shares in ThyssenKrupp fell 5.3 percent, among the top fallers on the FTSEurofirst 300. It was down for a second day following confirmation that Brazilian miner Vale will sell its entire 27 percent stake in the struggling CSA steel plant to the German firm.
The firm had rallied last week on hopes that it could benefit from consolidation in the European steel industry. However, its shares have been under pressure since the weekend, when Reuters exclusively reported that Vale was finalising a deal.
Commodity firms came under selling pressure, with the oil and gas sector down 2.7 percent as crude oil prices slipped to a one-month low after a surprise fall in gasoline demand in the United States and on doubts whether oil producers can agree an output freeze to dampen a global supply glut.
Today’s European research round-up
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA.
Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky