* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.1 pct
* Wait-and-see mode ahead of ECB meeting
* New ECB measures seen as priced in already
By Lionel Laurent and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, June 4 (Reuters) - European shares inched down on Wednesday after data confirmed a slowdown in the euro zone’s economic recovery in the first quarter, with investors awaiting fresh action by the European Central Bank to spur growth.
The 18-nation bloc’s economy expanded by just 0.2 percent in the three months to March, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said, cementing investor expectations for the ECB to trim its refinancing rate, send its deposit rate into negative territory and launch a cheap-lending initiative targeted at businesses.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,372.67 points as of 1007 GMT, hovering below a 6-1/2-year high hit on Monday.
Hopes for ECB intervention have supported share prices in recent months, often leading to a contrarian investor response to weak data, although some traders said there was a growing risk of a pullback after the central bank’s meeting on Thursday.
“No-one’s really eager to make any aggressive moves ahead of tomorrow,” said CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.
“It seems unlikely the ECB would disappoint in terms of action...(But) the real crunch is going to be what the ECB guides for the next meeting and beyond.”
The market’s pause for breath near record highs saw Spain and Italy underperform, with benchmark indexes in Madrid and Milan down between 0.6 and 0.7 percent.
Shares of Spanish oil-and-gas company Repsol fell 4.1 percent, one of the worst performers on the FTSEurofirst 300, after Mexico’s Pemex sold the bulk of its stake in Repsol for 2.09 billion euros ($2.85 billion).
Euro zone peripheral markets have been rallying on hopes of further measures from the central bank, with Milan’s FTSE MIB index up 14 percent year-to-date and Madrid’s IBEX up 9 percent.
“The risk is that we get a ‘buy the rumour, sell the news’ move on the market ... European stocks’ hefty valuation levels should prompt fund managers to book profits,” Banque Leonardo strategist Francois Chevallier wrote in a note.
Shares in Tesco fell 0.7 percent after Britain’s biggest retailer posted its worst quarterly UK sales drop in 40 years on Wednesday, ratcheting up the pressure on boss Phil Clarke to show his turnaround plan can counter the challenges of the grocery industry.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up ($1 = 0.7342 Euros) (Editing by Hugh Lawson)