* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.03 pct, hovers below 7-year high
* Weir falls 8.7 pct after revenue warning
* AXA up 4.6 pct after says confident on cost-cutting target
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - European shares were steady on Wednesday morning, pausing a recent sharp rally that propelled both Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX to record highs as investors combed through mixed corporate results.
Shares in British engineer Weir Group featured among the top losers, down 6.2 percent after it warned about a significant reduction in revenue in 2015, hurt by the drop in oil prices.
French steel pipe maker Vallourec sank 5.6 percent after saying it plans to cut 1,400 jobs in 2015 following a drop in demand from oil company customers.
Europe’s second-biggest insurer AXA rose 4.6 percent after posting a 12 percent increase in 2014 net profit and voicing confidence in its cost-cutting target for this year.
Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk gained 5.7 percent after the group said it would sell its 20 percent stake in Danske Bank with the anticipated proceeds of about $5.5 billion going to shareholders.
At 0908 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.03 percent at 1,543.07 points, retreating from a seven-year high hit on Tuesday.
“With the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing coming soon, European indexes should continue to rally for a while,” said Mirabaud Securities senior equity sales trader John Plassard in Geneva.
“For the Fed, at this point the date of the first rate hike doesn’t matter much. It’s priced in and we know that tightening will be gradual, so it won’t be a shock for the market.”
European stocks rallied on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was likely to be several months before the Fed raises interest rates.
Around Europe, UK’s FTSE 100 index was down 0.04 percent, retreating from a record high hit in late trade on Tuesday, Germany’s DAX index was down 0.04 percent, also retreating from an all-time high, and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.1 percent.
France’s Safran gained 3 percent after the group predicted profit growth this year as it posted stronger-than-expected 2014 earnings, led by sales of spare engine parts and record production rates.
Austrian real estate company Immofinanz surged 8.1 percent after Russian investor Boris Mints’ O1 vehicle and Austrian property group CA Immo said they may bid for around 15 percent of the firm.
Spain’s Telefonica fell 1.2 percent after reporting results hit by a weaker Venezuelan currency, restructuring costs in Germany and asset sales in non-core markets.
So far in the earnings season, 63 percent of STOXX 600 companies have reported results, of which 55 percent have met or beaten profit forecasts. Overall, fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow by 19.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, which would be Europe’s best season in 3-1/2 years.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
editing by John Stonestreet