(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. See the bottom of the report for more details) Adds closing prices)
* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 2.3 percent
* Lufthansa falls on news that CFO is to leave
* UniCredit drops as choice of new CEO seen taking time
By Atul Prakash and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, June 10 (Reuters) - European shares fell to near a four-week low on Friday, with Lufthansa dropping after the surprise departure of its finance chief, while political worries put pressure on cyclical stocks on the last trading day of the week.
Investors are jittery before a June 23 referendum in Britain on whether it will remain a member of the European Union. Bookmakers’ odds suggest those voting to remain in the EU will win, but polls suggest a neck-to-neck race.
“The upcoming UK referendum on the EU in less than two weeks, continuing slow growth within the EU ... seem to be taking a toll on European stocks,” City of London Markets trader Markus Huber said.
“With the European football championship kicking off in France and the country being on high alert for possible terror attacks, traders in general might prefer temporarily to reduce or at least hold steady their exposure to Europe for now.”
As caution grew before the British referendum, European equity funds posted a net outflow for the 18th consecutive week. That was the longest run since February 2008, before the onslaught of the global financial crisis, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down 2.3 percent at 1,308.8 points. The index earlier touched a low of 1,307.0 points, its lowest intraday point since May 16. The index ended its second straight week of losses.
Lufthansa shares fell 5.6 percent after news that Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne would step down, a surprise move that comes as the airline is trying to trim its cost base.
UniCredit fell 6.4 percent after its chairman said a new chief executive to replace outgoing Federico Ghizzoni would not be chosen before the end of July.
Investors have been concerned the Italian bank may turn to a capital increase to beef up its finance and uncertainty over strategy is likely to continue until a new CEO is picked.
Financials and other cyclicals were hit hard, with European insurance, banking, construction and travel indexes falling between 2.5 percent and 3.6 percent.
Commodities stocks also fell, with the energy index down 1.8 percent and the mining index dropping 2.7 percent after prices of crude oil and industrial metals dropped.
Today’s European research round-up
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). In a real-time, multimedia format from 0600 London time through the 1630 closing bell, it will include the best of our market reporting, Stocks Buzz service, Eikon graphics, Reuters pictures, eye-catching research and market zeitgeist. Breaking news and dramatic market moves will continue to be alerted to all clients and we will continue to provide a short opening story and comprehensive closing reports.
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Larry King)