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[LONDON] European equities hit a one-month low on the first day of the quarter on Friday as Zurich Insurance fell sharply after its shares traded without the attraction of its latest dividend payout, and energy stocks tracked weaker oil prices.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1.5 per cent, its lowest level in a month, extending the previous session's losses of 1 per cent. The benchmark index fell 7.7 per cent in the first quarter.
The European Insurance sector fell 2 per cent, the top sectoral decliner, after shares in Zurich Insurance fell nearly 9 per cent as its stocks traded ex-dividend.
Energy stocks dropped 1.7 per cent as a decline in crude oil prices put pressure on companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, down 2.1 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.
On the positive side, shares in Thyssenkrupp rose 5.4 per cent after German business paper Rheinische Post reported that India's Tata Steel was planning to take a stake in Thyssenkrupp's European steel unit.
Investors' focus will also be on US payrolls jobs data later in the day as any sign of strength in wages might revive the risk of higher US interest rates.