[LONDON] Shares in European planemaker Airbus and German airline Lufthansa tumbled after a plane in its low-cost division Germanwings with 150 people on board crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday.
The Airbus A320 jet, on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf,came down near a ski resort in the Barcelonnette area in southeastern France, officials said.
"In light of the information available at the present time we cannot say whether there are survivors or how many there might be," Germanwings chief executive, Oliver Wagner, said in a brief statement on German television.
In late morning deals, Lufthansa's share price dived more than four per cent in Frankfurt.
The stock stood at 13.42 euros in early afternoon trade, down 2.58 per cent from Monday and the worst performer on the German stock market.
Airbus shares sank 1.92 per cent to 58.85 euros, also making it the heaviest faller in Paris.
"Tragically, market movement cannot always been driven by pure stats," said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex trading group.
"News that a Germanwings plane has crashed in the south of France caused a fall in (the share price of) Lufthansa... alongside Airbus, the plane's manufacturer," he told AFP.
European stock markets however were steady overall.
Frankfurt's benchmark DAX 30 index of top companies was flat at 11,896 points, while the CAC 40 in Paris edged up 0.12 per cent to 5,060.30 points.
London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares was 0.01 per cent lower at 7,036.70 points.
"Very sad news and we have seen airline names drop on the back of this," said Guardian Stockbrokers analyst Atif Latif.
"The Airbus A320 is one of the most popular aircraft and (this incident) will question the safety aspect." Shares in Air France-KLM were down 0.60 per cent at 7.60 euros in Paris, while British low-cost carrier easyJet fell 0.37 per cent to 1,861 pence.
However, British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group saw its shares climb 2.03 per cent to 604 pence, topping the risers board on the FTSE 100.
Earlier on Tuesday, Europe's main stock markets had fallen in the wake of disappointing Chinese manufacturing data.
Asian equity markets mostly turned lower after a gauge of Chinese manufacturing plunged to an 11-month low in March.
In foreign exchange activity on Tuesday, the European single currency edged up to $1.0974 from $1.0945 late on Monday in New York.
The euro won a modest boost from hopes of a breakthrough in Greece's bailout talks with Germany.
Comments from the US Federal Reserve's vice chairman suggesting interest rates would rise more slowly than expected put further downward pressure on the dollar.