* FTSEurofirst 300 down 1.1 pct, extends Monday’s sell-off
* Raiffeisen Bank sinks after warning on Ukraine, Hungary
* French PMIs, German PMIs rattle investors
* New U.S. tax rules hit European pharma stocks
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - European shares fell in early trade on Tuesday, extending the previous session’s pull-back as data showing a further contraction in French business activity in September rattled investors.
Shares in Raiffeisen Bank International featured among the top losers, down 10 percent after the Austrian lender said hits from Ukraine and Hungary will likely push it to its first-ever annual loss in 2014.
Markit data showed France’s business activity contracted this month due to a weaker-than-expected services sector, as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy struggles to emerge from stagnation.
Similar data for Germany showed the country’s private sector growing for the 17th consecutive month in September, but the manufacturing sector expanded at its slowest pace since June 2013, with the figure coming in below all forecasts in a Reuters poll of 32 economists.
Overall for the euro zone, data showed business activity expanded at a slightly weaker pace than expected in September, as firms cut prices for the 30th month in a row.
At 0805 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 1.1 percent at 1,378.82 points, after losing 0.6 percent on Monday.
Around Europe, the UK’s FTSE 100 index was down 1.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index shed 0.9 percent and France’s CAC 40 lost 1.4 percent.
Despite the two-day drop, Aurel BGC analyst Gerard Sagnier had a short-term ‘buy’ recommendation on European stock indexes.
“Markets are very technical at the moment. Indexes are bouncing back between resistance levels and support levels,” Sagnier said. “But ultimately, the trend is still positive and indexes will manage to get back into green at some point, so people should take advantage of the dip.”
Health-care stocks featured among the top losers, with the STOXX Europe 600 index down 1.4 percent, following new U.S. Treasury rules on tax inversion deals. Such deals have fuelled a wave of takeovers by U.S. companies of European firms, especially in the pharma sector.
Shares in drugmakers AstraZeneca and Shire fell 5 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.
Washington’s move appears to jeopardise an agreed deal for AbbVie to buy Shire for $55 billion and could deter Pfizer from making another attempt to acquire AstraZeneca, after a $118 billion takeover attempt failed in May.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Gareth Jones