* Rouble’s slide fuels fears for Russian economy
* Raiffeisen Bank Intl hits record low, Carlsberg down 6 pct
* STOXX Europe 600 down 0.7 pct
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Shares in European companies exposed to Russia fell sharply to lead a broad decline on Tuesday, as the rouble plunged in value and concern grew about the state of the Russian economy.
Shares in Raiffeisen Bank International, which relies on Russia for profits, hit a record low after Russia’s aggressive hike in interest rates failed to convince investors the central bank had turned the tide on a developing financial crisis.
Shares in other companies exposed to Russia also dropped. The brewer Carlsberg slumped 5 percent to a 2 1/2- year trough and German retailer Metro fell 3.5 percent.
The Russian economy has buckled and the rouble dropped because of Western sanctions and the falling price of oil, drawing comparison to the country’s 1998 financial crisis, which saw the government eventually default on its debt.
“All markets will be governed by this (the ruble’s slide),” said Justin Haque, a broker at Hobart Capital Markets. “It’s 1998 again.”
Oil and gas stocks resumed their slide as U.S. crude slumped to its lowest level since May 2009.
At 1215 GMT, the euro zone Euro STOXX 50 index index was down 1 percent at 2,953.70 points in volatile trade and hefty volume. The pan-European broader STOXX Europe 600 was down 0.7 percent at 321.07 points.
The STOXX Europe 600 has tumbled around 8.5 percent since Dec. 5, wiping out market capitalisation of more than $740 billion, roughly the size of Saudi Arabia’s annual GDP.
Purchasing managers’ survey for the euro zone released on Tuesday showed fragile growth in the currency bloc, while low oil prices are fuelling fears of deflation.
“This might be a good entry point but we need to see some stabilisation in Russia,” said Joost van Leenders, investment specialist for allocation and strategy and BNP Paribas Investment Partners.
Bucking the trend, Orange and Deutsche Telekom rallied on news of talks with BT to sell EE.
Orange was up 1.3 percent and Deutsche Telekom rose 0.4 percent after the two firms entered exclusive talks with BT for a potential 12.5 billion-pound ($19.6 billion) sale of EE.
BT shares were up 1.5 percent.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris)