European shares fall after ECB decision on Greek debt
* FTSEurofirst 300 drops 0.4 pct
* Greek banking stocks plunge 14 percent
By Blaise Robinson and Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS/LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - European stocks fell on Thursday after the European Central Bank abruptly cancelled its acceptance of Greek bonds in return for funding, shifting the burden onto the country's central bank.
Greek banking shares sank, with the Athens Stock Exchange FTSE Banks Index dropping 14 percent, driving Greece's broader ATG equity index down by 5.6 percent.
Alpha Bank shares were down by 10 percent and Eurobank shares plunged 14.6 percent. Shares in National Bank of Greece fell 12.3 percent.
"The ECB took the market by surprise," one Athens-based trader said. "Given the turn of events and the fact that Greek banks had rallied over 50 percent in the last five sessions, it was a trigger for profit taking."
The ECB's move, which means the Greek central bank will have to provide its banks with tens of billions of euros of additional emergency liquidity in the coming weeks, was a response to what many in Frankfurt see as the Greek government's abandoning of its aid-for-reform programme.
By 0857 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.4 percent at 1,481.86 points. Continuación...