* Pan-European index down 0.4 percent
* EDF down after CFO quits
* Old Mutual boosted by break-up talk
* JP Morgan cuts equities to underweight
* Miners top declines after on profit taking
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 7 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Monday following recent gains, led lower by French utility EDF after a senior executive quit, with investors awaiting the ECB policy meeting later this week to give near-term direction.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had risen to one-month highs on Friday after three straight weeks of gains, was down 0.4 percent to 1,339.25 points by 0923 GMT.
Following weakness in recent European economic data, the European Central Bank is seen announcing further monetary policy easing on Thursday but some investors sounded some caution that expectations surrounding the extra stimulus might be too high.
“Momentum is fading again and, combined with persistently weak inflation readings, should ensure a comprehensive package of stimulus measures,” Peel Hunt strategist Ian Williams said, pointing to another deposit rate cut along with a significant extension of the asset purchase programme.
“The danger is that markets may already be pricing in more than the ECB can deliver,” he added in a note on Monday.
European stocks have rallied recently after a rocky start to 2016, as oil prices recovered and fears over a U.S. economic slowdown abated. Nevertheless, the FTSEurofirst remains down around 7 percent since the start of the year.
Meanwhile JP Morgan Cazenove reduced the weight of stocks in its balanced portfolio to “underweight” for the first time since 2007, saying the recent market rebound was set to peter out.
EDF fell 7 percent after Finance Director Thomas Piquemal resigned. The French utility did not say why he had quit but a source familiar with the matter said it was related to EDF’s plan to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, in Britain.
“This decision is clearly negative for the group, as it underscores the significant difference in opinions within the group concerning this project which, if realised as it is, will put the group’s financial situation under pressure,” said Xavier Caroen, analyst at Bryan Garnier.
Miners, down 1.8 percent, were the top sectoral faller after London copper fell from four-month highs as traders took profits following last week’s rally on concerns that prices had overshot fundamental demand. Anglo American fell 3.8 percent following a downgrade to sell at UBS.
But Old Mutual surged 8 percent as the company said it was considering strategic options following a Sky News report on Saturday that the financial services company was plotting a 9 billion pounds break-up.
Today’s European research round-up
$1 = 0.7062 pounds Editing by Toby Chopra