Sluggish European stocks knocked by rates talk, Sonova slump

* Sonova slumps after missing financial targets

* Renewed prospect of U.S. rate hike impacts equities

* Goldman Sachs cuts equities to “neutral” (ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report for more details)

LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - European stock markets dipped lower on Wednesday, weighed down by renewed expectations of U.S. interest rate rises this year, and some weak corporate earnings from the likes of Switzerland’s Sonova.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index declined by 0.2 percent to 1,312.94 by 1055 GMT, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also fell 0.2 percent.

Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova was among the worst-performing stocks in Europe, slumping 8.3 percent after missing its full-year sales and profit targets.

On Tuesday, data showed that U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in more than three years in April, pointing to a steady inflation build-up that could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to raise interest rates later this year.

A U.S. Federal Reserve policymaker also said he would push for an interest rate hike in June or July while two others still saw up to three rate increases this year, leaving the door open to a change in monetary policy relatively soon.

“The spectre of a U.S. rate hike is leading to a bit more cautious sentiment and negativity creeping into the stock markets,” said Hantec Markets’ analyst Richard Perry.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs also cut its view on global equities, downgrading the asset class to “neutral”.

“Until we see sustained earnings growth, equities do not look attractive, especially on a risk-adjusted basis,” Goldman Sachs wrote in a note.

The FTSEurofirst is down by around 9 percent so far in 2016, with concerns about a China-led global economic slowdown having impacted world stock markets this year.

Miners were the top fallers on Wednesday, with the STOXX 600 Basic Resources index down 2.4 percent, as Chinese iron ore and steel futures slipped.

Fashion firm Burberry fell 5.8 percent, after a 10 percent fall in profit, saying that full-year results for this year would come in towards the lower end of current expectations.

Among gainers on the STOXX Europe 600, Booker Group rose 6.7 percent after an upgrade to “buy” from “neutral” by Goldman Sachs.

Today’s European research round-up

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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA. (Editing by Andrew Heavens)