* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct, falls from 6 1/2-yr high
* Alstom deal sparks speculation of stake sales
* Euronext slips again; UBS starts with 'sell' rating
By Tricia Wright
LONDON, June 23 European stocks fell on Monday
as downbeat readings of euro zone business activity revived
worries over the pace of economic recovery in the region.
Shares of companies in which the French state owns
significant stakes retreated after the country's economy
minister, Arnaud Montebourg, hinted at sales of some holdings to
finance investment in Alstom.
EDF fell 2.8 percent, Safran was down 2
percent, Orange was down 0.5 percent, Airbus
down 1.5 percent and Thales down 2.5 percent, all
underperforming France's CAC 40, down 0.4 percent.
At 1513 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,390.22 points,
retreating from a 6-1/2 year high hit last week.
Data compiler Markit said its composite Purchasing Managers
Index (PMI) of activity in France's manufacturing and services
sectors slipped deeper into contraction in May, dampening hopes
for a rebound in the euro zone's second-biggest economy.
Separate Markit data showed manufacturing output in Germany,
Europe's largest economy, increased at its weakest rate since
September. Service sector growth also slowed.
"The market doesn't like at all the French PMIs, and the
German data is also disappointing. It eclipses the upbeat
Chinese data from overnight, and it's a reminder that the latest
ECB (stimulus) measures are not magic," Saxo Bank trader Andrea
"At these levels, investors need positive catalysts to chase
stocks higher, but there aren't any. With the crisis in Iraq and
the risk to see oil prices jumping, it's just tempting to book
Earlier on Monday, data showed activity in China's factory
sector expanded in June for the first time in six months,
boosting shares in European mining companies such as Rio Tinto
and BHP Billiton, both up 1.9 percent.
Also bucking the trend on Monday, Spain's Dia
added 3 percent after the world's third-largest discount
supermarkets group said it had reached a preliminary deal to
sell its loss-making Dia France unit. Carrefour will
but it for 600 million euros, more than the market had expected.
Shares in European stock market operator Euronext
fell 5.1 percent, adding to losses on Friday when the stock
started trading following its initial public offering. The stock
is down 7 percent from the IPO price of 20 euros a share.
UBS initiated coverage of Euronext with a 'sell' rating and
a price target of 17 euros a share, citing limited upside
potential for a pick-up in trading volumes in Europe.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Larry