European stocks opened lower on Thursday, snapping a four-day run of gains as China`s poor manufacturing data fueled concerns of slowdown in world`s second largest economy. The global equity markets are back on the losing streak, after Wall Street closed near session lows overnight, and Asian shares traded mostly lower today. In Europe, equities followed suit in a slump that was fueled by fears over the global economic recovery, with data showing China`s manufacturing activity slowed to a seven-month low in February, according to the HSBC/Markit flash PMI survey on Thursday. As of 04:02 ET: - Europe`s Stoxx 600 was down 0.82% at 332.21, with basic materials leading the slump, due to the heavy exposure to China`s private sector. - London`s FTSE 100 was down 0.58% at 6,757.41 - Paris`s CAC 40 was down 0.80% at 4,306.17 - Frankfurt`s DAX 30 was down 1.30% at 9,534.45 China`s preliminary PMI came in at 48.3 in February compared with 49.5 in January, while analysts called for a median forecast at 49.4. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Adding to the negativity, European manufacturing and services trailed expectations in February, raising concern the recovery is losing momentum, with a flash composite of manufacturing and services easing to 52.7 from 52.9, below analysts' average forecast of a rise to 53.1. PMI manufacturing narrowed expansion to 53.0 in February from a prior of 54.0, coming below analysts' forecast of remaining at 54.0. The services gauge inched up to 51.7 from 51.6, lower than expectations of 51.9. More, the German manufacturing sector narrowed growth to 54.7 from 56.5 while services rose to 55.4 from a previous of 53.1. In France, French manufacturing eased expansion to 48.5 from 49.3 in January and services retreated further to 46.9 from 48.9. Traders digested minutes from the Fed`s latest monetary policy, but the lack of consensus in the FOMC is raising uncertainty over policy, which sent the Dow Jones down 0.6% o end at its lows at 16,040. Tapering was assumed to move in $10 billion increments but the appearance of weak economic data had the doves on the FOMC agreeing only to the words "further measured steps" with no dollar figures attached. On the key interest rates, the hawks at the meeting argued it should be raised sooner than later while the doves stressed the need to keep the rate low if inflation remains below the Fed`s 2 percent target. Similarly vague were the Fed`s employment goals. And adding further uncertainty is how the Fed will react to the increasing run of very weak economic data since the January meeting, headed yesterday by another plunge in housing starts and another decline for permits. On the currencies front, the strength of the dollar held pressure on the euro, with the EUR/USD reversing yesterday`s gains to session low of 1.3450, but the pair has pair losses to 1.3552. The USDIX, which tracks the greenback against a six-currency basket, rose to the highest level in four day, as much as 80.31 compared with yesterday's close at 80.19.