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European shares plunge to 20-month lows as Wall Street rout sparks sell-off

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

MILAN (Reuters) - European shares fell to their lowest level in more than 20 months on Thursday following a rout on Wall Street as jitters over rising U.S. Treasury yields sparked a broad selloff of risky assets.

All sectors in Europe were trading in the red, with tech stocks bearing the brunt of the selling pressure after the big U.S. technology stocks that have been the driving force behing a multi-year bull market posted heavy losses overnight.

Europe's tech index fell 2.4 percent, even though Ingenico rallied 8.5 percent after Natixis said it was examining a merger of its payments activities with the financial and payments firm.

By 0712 GMT, the broader pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1.4 percent to its lowest level since end January 2017. All big country benchmarks across Europe were down more than 1 percent. Defensive sectors such as healthcare were also lower, but outperformed the broader market.

Bayer rose 5.6 percent after its Monstanto unit received a tentative ruling for a new trial on the $250 million in punitive damages in U.S. weed-killer case.

Top faller on the STOXX was UK recruiter Hays. Its shares fell 9 percent after the company reported a slower quarterly fee growth rate, hurt by a relatively stronger pound against other foreign currencies.

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Gareth Jones)