European shares halt rally; Diageo dips after sales fall
* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, retreats from 2000 highs
* Unilever rises after posting better-than-expected results
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) - European stocks slipped in early trading on Thursday, halting their recent sharp rally, with shares in Diageo dropping after it posted a fall in sales.
Diageo, the world's largest spirits maker, was down 2.6 percent after saying net sales in the three months to March 31, the third quarter of its financial year, fell 0.7 percent.
Shares in Casino fell 3.1 percent after the French retailer said growth slowed in the first quarter, reflecting a still lacklustre performance in France despite price cuts there.
Ipsen sank 9.7 percent after the French pharmaceutical firm said it was discontinuing the development of its prostate cancer drug Tasquinimod.
Bucking the trend, SABMiller Plc gained 2 percent after reporting a marginal rise in full-year beverage sales volumes, while Unilever reported better-than-expected sales for the first quarter, showing improvement from the hammering it took last year from weak emerging markets including a slowdown in China.
Airbus Group rose 2.1 percent after the aircraft maker said it will ask shareholders to approve an exceptional share buyback of up to 10 percent of its capital at its annual meeting on May 27. Continuación...