UPDATE 1-European mood turns grim on profit warnings, London stock slide
(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon news window)
* Continental slides after posting net loss in 2019
* British stocks hit by ex-div trading
* More companies warn of pain from coronavirus
(Adds comment, updates prices)
By Sruthi Shankar
March 5 (Reuters) - European shares headed lower on Thursday, as a slump in British stocks and profit warnings from several companies soured market sentiment even after central banks this week tried to ease the blow of the coronavirus outbreak on global growth.
The main European equity benchmark .STOXX reversed early gains to trade down 0.8%.
London's FTSE 100 .FTSE fell 1.3%, with several companies including Evraz Plc EVRE.L Rio Tinto RIO.L , Persimmon PSN.L and BHP BHPB.L sliding as they traded ex-dividend. .L
Among euro zone stocks, German auto supplier Continental CONG.DE slumped 10.5% after it posted a net loss of 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion) in 2019, as it suffered from a global downturn in demand for passenger cars. broader automakers index .SXAP dropped 2.2%, while miners .SXPP fell 2.8%, leading declines among the STOXX 600 subsectors.
Airbus shares AIR.PA fell 2.8% after Bloomberg reported the company was considering a cut in production of the A330neo jet after its biggest customer deferred deliveries due to a slump in travel demand.
In a sign of deep damage to the travel industry, British regional airline Flybe collapsed, making the struggling carrier the industry's first big casualty of the outbreak. late February's rout that pushed European markets into correction territory, markets stabilised somewhat this week as investors were hopeful stimulus measures from governments and central banks would protect the global economy.
Analysts firmly expect the European Central Bank to cut interest rates by 10 basis points next week, joining the U.S. Federal Reserve and its peers in Canada and Australia in reducing borrowing costs.
"The Fed has some room to ease further, but Europe doesn't have a lot of room," said Artur Baluszynski, head of research at Henderson Rowe.
"If we see a round of disappointing earnings or outlooks this earnings season, we might see markets moving from the narrative of 'we need easy money' to 'we need some serious fiscal stimulus'".
The outbreak shows little signs of peaking globally, with Italy closing all schools and California declaring a state of emergency. agency S&P Global halved its eurozone growth forecast for the year to 0.5% from 1% on Wednesday and predicted a 0.3% contraction for hard hit Italy. commercial broadcaster ITV ITV.L fell 9.0% after warning that ad revenue for April could fall by about 10% as travel companies deferred campaigns. broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media PSMGn.DE dropped 10.5% after saying its e-commerce arm NuCom would buy U.S. dating app developer Meet Group Inc MEET.O . stocks in the black was science and technology company Merck KGaA MRCG.DE , rising 2.8% after it forecast "strong" growth core earnings for 2020.
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