* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent, Germany underperforms
* Mining stocks buoyed as stimulus hopes lift metals prices
* Tesco gains on report of South Korean unit sale
* Raiffeisen falls after results
* German-listed Joyou slumps more than 80 percent
By Lionel Laurent
LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Thursday after data pointed to a mixed picture for the euro zone’s economic recovery, with German private-sector growth slowing again in May even as France extended its timid recovery.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.4 percent at 0751 GMT, with blue-chip German stocks underperforming the region after Markit’s flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Europe’s largest economy showed a drop in May, though it rose in France.
Signs that the positive effects of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme, such as a weakening of the euro, may have started to peter out in the second quarter have pushed some investors to trim their exposure to European stocks, though they still remain near multi-year peaks.
“Some of the tailwinds supporting the recovery have become a bit less powerful in recent months,” ING strategists wrote in a note to clients.
European trading broadly tracked U.S. and Asian markets, after minutes from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting offered little to alter market expectations of the timing of an interest-rate hike. Economic data out of Asia also pointed to an economy stuck in low gear.
Mining stocks such as Fresnillo, BHP Billiton and Anglo American rose between 1.6 and 2.3 percent, as hopes of more monetary stimulus from China boosted metals prices.
UK retailer Tesco also rose after traders cited a media report saying the company would start the sales process for its South Korea unit in July. Tesco declined to comment.
Shares of Deutsche Bank, which faces a potentially stormy shareholder meeting later on Thursday, were little changed. The bank reshuffled its management board late on Wednesday, consolidating restructuring authority under co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain while bidding farewell to its retail banking head Rainer Neske.
Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank fell 2 percent after the bank’s first-quarter profit fell by nearly half.
Zurich Insurance shares, meanwhile, outperformed after the insurer raised the prospect of returning more cash to shareholders.
The market’s most eye-popping slump came with German-listed Joyou, which sells bathroom wares such as toilets and faucets. The stock slumped 86 percent after the company said it was mulling whether to file for insolvency after an extraordinary writedown.
Nomura strategists recommended a reshuffle of European equity portfolios, downgrading industrials stocks to “Neutral” and recommending banking stocks. “We remain positive on European equities, with the view that earnings growth will be sufficient to drive the market higher,” they wrote in a note.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Janet Lawrence)