European shares fell more than a five-month high on Thursday ahead of a meeting of the European Central Bank, which is expected to reduce growth forecasts and hint at a new round of low-cost loans to euro zone banks.
European banking sector fell on profit-taking after gains in anticipation of the European Central Bank loan program, while the export-based auto sector continued to decline due to concerns about slowing Chinese growth.
Core resource shares were under pressure as copper prices fell, while gains in sectors such as telecommunications and utilities, favored in times of economic uncertainty, were insufficient to offset market weakness in general.
At 0830 GMT, the Stoxx 600 European index was down 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX and the Financial Times 100 fell 0.5 percent.
Italy's banking sector, the biggest beneficiary of the previous cheap central bank's lending round, gained 0.1 percent, but its shares remained below the previous session.