* FTSEurofirst 300 index falls 0.1 percent
* Caution ahead of Ukraine, EU election results
* Smiths Group slips, warns on profit in detection unit
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, May 23 European shares edged lower on
Friday, moving further away from last week's six-year highs with
investors trading cautiously ahead of European and Ukrainian
At 0755 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,364.75 points after
closing 0.1 percent higher in the previous session. The index
climbed to 1,372.81 on May 15, its highest since 2008.
The EU's marathon parliamentary election was in focus.
Polling kicked off on Thursday when Britain and the Netherlands
voted, with right-wing, anti-EU parties expected to attract a
surge of protest votes in many countries.
Britain's anti-EU UKIP party made strong gains in local
elections, according to early results on Friday, while a Dutch
exit poll for the EU elections indicated that the anti-Islam,
Eurosceptic Freedom Party had fallen well short of its goal of
topping the poll.
Analysts said there were concerns the EU elections could
destabilise some euro zone governments at home. In Italy, for
example, a poor result for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's party
could weaken his drive for swift reforms that he promised when
he took power.
"After a couple of strong sessions, markets are taking a
wait-and-see approach ahead of the European elections," Philippe
Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets
in Brussels, said.
"Normally the market impact should be limited but a
situation like this adds a layer of uncertainty, especially when
we know that there are also elections in Ukraine."
Tensions are high in Ukraine, where more than a dozen
servicemen were reported killed on Thursday in a clash with
pro-Russian separatists, ahead of Sunday's presidential
election, seen as crucial for its fragile democracy.
Among sharp decliners, British engineer Smiths Group
fell 3 percent, the top fallers on the FTSEurofirst 300
index after warning about the profitability of its detection
Analysts remained positive on the market's outlook and
predicted that key European indexes would set new highs
following expected new European Central Bank measures to support
"Markets remain well oriented. As (the) June 5 (ECB meeting)
draws nearer, the market will start to anticipate about the
European Central Bank's likely move to loosen its monetary
policy. And that should be positive for risky assets," Gijsels
of BNP Paribas Fortis said.
Analysts in a Reuters poll published on Wednesday expected
the ECB to cut its main interest rate in June and push the
deposit rate below zero in an attempt to stop the euro from
rising and inflation from falling further.
Markets showed no immediate reaction to a drop in Germany's
Ifo business sentiment index, which fell more than expected to
its lowest this year in May.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by John Stonestreet)