``Recession fears are weighing on equity markets,'' said Juergen Lukasser, who helps manage the equivalent of about $20 billion as head of equities at Constantia Privatbank AG in Vienna. ``We haven't left the credit crunch behind us. It's unclear what we are going to see in further writedowns.'' European stocks fell, sending the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index to its fourth straight monthly decline, on mounting concern the U.S. economy is slipping into a recession and financial companies will report more writedowns. Barclays Plc and Allianz SE led banks and insurers lower as UBS AG said financial firms face $600 billion in credit losses. STMicroelectronics NV, the region's biggest producer of semiconductors, and chip designer ARM Holdings Plc retreated after Dell Inc. reported a surprise drop in profit. Discount airline Ryanair Holdings Plc slid to the lowest since 2005 after oil rose to a record high. The Stoxx 600 decreased 1.4 percent to 318.95. The gauge is down 1 percent this month, capping its longest monthly losing streak since March 2003, on concern losses related to subprime mortgages and slowing economic growth will hurt earnings.
The Stoxx 600 has lost 13 percent so far this year as analysts scale back earnings estimates. Companies in the index will probably boost profit only 4.5 percent this year, down from 11 percent predicted at the end of 2007, Bloomberg data show. National benchmarks fell in all 18 markets in western Europe. Germany's DAX decreased 1.7 percent, and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 1.4 percent. France's CAC 40 lost 1.5 percent. The Stoxx 50 slipped 1.6 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, retreated 1.6 percent. Barclays, the U.K.'s third-biggest bank, dropped 4.7 percent to 477.25 pence. ING Groep NV, the largest Dutch financial-services provider, slipped 2.4 percent to 22.25 euros. Allianz, Europe's biggest insurer, sank 3.2 percent to 117.50 euros. Axa SA, the region's second-largest, lost 2.6 percent to 22.48 euros. Financial firms are likely to face at least $600 billion of credit losses, UBS analysts said today. Financial institutions have written down or lost about $160 billion so far and losses from banks and brokers will make up more than half of the losses at $350 billion, the analysts said. ``The fear the European economy might slow is overwhelming,'' said Florian Weber, Dusseldorf, Germany-based chief executive officer at Schnigge Wertpapierhandelsbank AG, in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``Markets might plummet another 5 to 10 percent just because sentiment