(Updates prices, adds detail)
* FTSEurofirst 300 edges lower
* Delhaize falls after weaker-than-expected results
* Greek stock market outperforms
* Greece to present draft reform bill to lenders
* Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - A batch of weaker-than-expected corporate results weighed on European shares on Wednesday, although the Athens market outperformed on signs that Greece and its lenders remained keen to reach a deal on Greece’s debt.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index slipped 0.1 percent to 1,616.44 points. The index fell 1.5 percent on Tuesday but remains close to its highest level in more than 14 years.
Belgian supermarket group Delhaize fell 6.1 percent, the worst performer on the FTSEurofirst, after reporting lower-than-expected operating profits.
Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s largest aluminium producers, also fell 4.4 percent after posting operating earnings just short of forecasts and cutting its estimate for global primary aluminium demand growth.
Gainers included Telecom Italia, which rose 3.3 percent after Italian paper Corriere della Sera wrote that Vivendi’s chief Vincent Bollore aims to strengthen the company’s stake in Telecom Italia and to later strike an alliance with Mediaset.
Germany’s DAX was flat at 11,811.78 points, leaving it some 5 percent below a record high of 12,390.75 points hit earlier in April, while France’s CAC fell 0.1 percent.
However, Athens’ benchmark ATG equity index rose 0.7 percent.
Government officials said Greece was to present draft reform legislation to lenders on Wednesday, in a bid to show it is serious about acting on pledges to secure aid.
Athens needs to repay loans of about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to the IMF in May. The draft bill is its latest move to speed up negotiations in the hopes of reaching a deal with European and IMF creditors before it runs out of cash.
“I am not overly concerned about Greece. They still seem to be taking steps to ensure they can reach a deal with their creditors,” said Logic Investments’ Harry Shann.
The FTSEurofirst remains up by around 18 percent since the start of 2015, as economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) have pushed investors towards the better returns available from stocks compared with bonds and cash, whose returns have been hit by record low interest rates.
Signs that the ECB’s plans to buy back government bonds in order to boost the region’s economy have also kept the region’s stock market near multi-year highs.
Lending to euro zone households and firms rose for the first time in three years in March, ECB data showed on Wednesday, turning the corner less than two months after the bank launched a massive money-printing programme.
Data from Thomson Reuters StarMine has also shown that 64 percent of the companies in the pan-European STOXX 600 index have beaten or met market forecasts with their first quarter results.
Nevertheless, some traders said now might be a good time to cash in on the European stock market rally.
“If corporate results are good you can continue to see positive openings and some stocks will perform very well, but the move yesterday suggests people are taking risk off the table and that can continue at least this week,” said Mike Reuter, a broker at Tradition.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky)