London - European stocks opened lower on Friday, tracking a retreat in global equities and setting local indexes on course for their first weekly loss in a month.

Geopolitical tensions further dampened investor appetite before the weekend after Russian president Vladimir Putin warned the country's gas supplies to Europe could be disrupted if Moscow cuts the flow to Ukraine over unpaid bills, drawing a US accusation that it is using energy “as a tool of coercion”.

Shares in European blue-chips with the biggest exposure to Russia underperformed, with Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International down 2.1 percent.

At 09:04 SA time, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 1 percent to 1,318.52 points while the euro zone blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.9 percent to 3,123.03 points.

Japanese shares sank to six-month lows on Friday while the US Nasdaq suffered its biggest drop in 2-1/2 years the night before, heightening investor anxiety about a broader pullback after several equity indexes around the world hit multi-year-highs in recent weeks.

The Euro STOXX 50 index was set to suffer its steepest weekly loss since January as it retreated from 5-1/2 year highs and “overbought” conditions hit last Friday, as shown by its seven-day Relative Strength Index, a momentum indicator. - Reuters