* FTSEurofirst 300 closes down 0.4 pct at 1,363.16 points
* FTSE down 0.3 pct, DAX down 0.4 pct, CAC falls 0.5 pct
* But peripheral European markets outperform
* ECB’s Draghi reiterates readiness for new stimulus
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Weak economic data weighed on European shares on the first trading day of the year, although the losses were mitigated by growing expectations of new measures from the European Central Bank to boost the euro zone.
The need to stimulate growth in Europe was highlighted by subdued euro zone manufacturing data on Friday. The data showed a downturn in France and weak activity in Germany, which contributed to push down France’s CAC stock index by 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX down 0.4 percent.
British manufacturing also expanded at a much weaker pace than expected in December, China’s massive factory sector looked to have sputtered and there was a similar slowdown in the United States.
“We received fairly disappointing manufacturing data from the U.S, Asia, UK and euro zone, creating renewed concerns about a slowdown of the manufacturing sector worldwide,” said Sucden Financial senior research analyst Myrto Sokou.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.4 percent at 1,363.16 points, while Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 0.3 percent.
However, southern European stock markets -- dubbed by investors as the “periphery” -- rallied.
In a German newspaper interview, ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated that the bank was ready for new measures, such as buying government bonds -- so-called ‘quantitative easing’ (QE) -- to provide more stimulus.
Investors have speculated that QE would have the strongest effect on the euro zone’s weakest economies -- Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy -- and their stock markets posted the biggest gains on Friday.
Spain’s IBEX rose 0.7 percent, Italy’s FTSE MIB gained 0.6 percent and Greece’s main ATG equity index advanced 1.2 percent.
The ATG index fell around 30 percent in 2014, hit by political uncertainty before a general election on Jan. 25.
Polls show the opposition Syriza party leading Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party, which imposed unpopular budget cuts under Greece’s bailout deal.
Syriza has said it would cancel the austerity measures along with a chunk of Greek debt, but some traders said Syriza might end up shying away from such measures if elected.
“It’s unlikely that Syriza will end up being as radical as they appear in public,” said Rupert Baker, a European equity sales executive at Mirabaud Securities.
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 Lionel Laurent; Editing by Louise Ireland/Larry King/Susan Fenton)