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[London] European shares slumped on Friday, with Germany's stock market, one of the region's best performers after the 2008 financial crisis, falling to a one-year low as concerns mounted over the German and global economies.
The DAX, which had soared to a record high of 10,050.98 points in June, fell 2.2 per cent to 8,808.90 points going into the close of the trading session, after falling to a low of 8,788.21, its lowest level since Oct 2013.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down by 1.3 per cent at 1,296.40 points, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 retreated 1.3 per cent to 3,003.15.
The recent sell-off has prompted US-based investors to cut their exposure to Europe, according to data from Thomson Reuters Lipper that shows European equities suffering their biggest outflows in two months in the seven-day period ended Oct 8.
A Lipper poll of 109 US-domiciled funds invested in European stocks, which include exchange-traded funds' (ETFs) holdings, shows net outflows of US$329 million, the biggest weekly redemptions since mid-August.
The DAX has been hit hard this week by a raft of poor data from Germany, Europe's biggest economy, including statistics on Thursday which showed German exports in August had fallen by their largest amount since January 2009.
Traders said the International Monetary Fund's decision this week to cut its global growth forecasts, and worries about the Ebola virus, which has hit travel stocks, were also weighing on equity markets. "I don't think there'll be a full-on meltdown, but I think we will be in a bearish market for the next few weeks," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.
European technology stocks also underperformed.
The DAX's decline on Friday pushed it below the 8,900 point level which had marked previous low points reached this year, and Mr Courtney-Cook said the index had scope to fall to the 7,500 point level over the next month.
Yet in spite of the stock market pullback, with the DAX down by around 8 per cent since the start of 2014 and the FTSEurofirst 300 down 2 per cent, some investors felt European equities could recover and rally in November and December.
Many fund managers have argued that the poor German economic data could put more pressure on the European Central Bank to undertake new economic stimulus measures, such as quantitative easing, which could lift stock markets. "I've been taking profits but I would not necessarily run and hide from European equities," said Caroline Vincent, European equities fund manager at Cavendish Asset Management. "The poorer the data gets, the more likely it is that the ECB will do QE."