PARIS, Dec 11 (Reuters) - European shares sank on Thursday, retreating for the fourth consecutive session as the take-up at the European Central Bank's loan offer disappointed investors, and on political concerns over Greece.
Banks borrowed almost 130 billion euros ($160 billion) of four-year loans from the ECB in its latest lending round, which is what traders had expected but brings the total take-up to 212.4 billion euros, far short of the 400 billion euro upper limit identified for the end of the year.
"Only 306 banking groups took funds from a maximum pool of more than 300 billion euros for today's allocation. Bearing in mind that banks still have to repay previous central bank borrowing, today's number is underwhelming," Royal Bank of Scotland analysts wrote in a note.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.7 percent at 1,347.30 points, hovering near a level not seen since mid-November. The index has tumbled by more than 4 percent so far this week.
Greek shares featured among the top losers, with Athens's ATG benchmark index down 5.4 percent, hitting a 16-month low, also hurt by worries over the country's political situation. The ATG has plummeted 18 percent this week.
Investors have been rattled by a decision by the Greek government to bring forward to next week a presidential vote that will force nearly two dozen independent lawmakers to decide whether to side with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' pro-bailout cabinet, or with leftist radicals who have vowed to tear up the bailout.
If Samaras fails to secure victory for his presidential candidate, snap national elections could be called which the leftist Syriza party -- a fierce opponent of Greece's bailout deal with the European Union and IMF -- would likely win. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)