European shares fall after Italy downgrade, soft Asia data
* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 pct, trims Friday's gains
* Italy's credit downgrade weighs on sentiment
* Energy shares drop again as Brent slips below $69 (Adds quotes, detail)
By Alistair Smout and Sam Wilkin
LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - European shares fell early on Monday, trimming some of the previous session's sharp gains after Italy's sovereign debt rating was cut late on Friday and following soft economic data from China and Japan.
S&P downgraded Italy to BBB-, just one notch above junk, from BBB, citing weak growth and poor competitiveness that undermine the sustainability of its huge public debt.
"The Italian downgrade is a reminder that the European sovereign debt crisis has not vanished overnight," said Henk Potts, director of global research at Barclays.
"Sentiment is still a bit fragile in the short term, investors need to be looking at a medium- to long-term time horizon in Europe."
Expectations that the European Central Bank will start a bond-buying programme next year helped to limit losses, with the FTSE MIB just 0.3 percent lower. Continuación...