* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.5 pct, after gaining 0.8 pct on Fri
* Pirelli rises after takeover bid from ChemChina
* European exporters getting expensive -JPMorgan
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) - European shares slipped on Monday, taking a breather following recent sharp gains, while shares in Pirelli rose 3.5 percent after China National Chemical Corp agreed to buy the tyre maker in a 7.1 billion euro ($7.66 billion) deal.
The acquisition, agreed with Pirelli shareholders on Sunday, will see state-owned ChemChina take over the world’s fifth-largest tyre maker and one of the symbols of Italy’s manufacturing industry.
At 0849 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.5 percent at 1,602.62 points, after climbing 0.8 percent on Friday and hitting a 7-1/2 year high.
“Markets are taking a breather, and there’s just no positive catalyst seen in the short term,” Saxo Bank trader Andrea Tueni said.
“In relative terms, equities remain very attractive versus bonds, but after such a rally people are tempted to just book some profits, especially ahead of Tsipras’s visit to Berlin,” he said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in his first official visit to Berlin on Monday amid a standoff between Athens and its euro zone creditors over the terms of its 240 billion euro bailout deals.
Investors were also keeping a close eye on the euro, trading at $1.0790 against the dollar on Monday, above a 12-year trough of $1.0457 hit last week.
European stocks have been strongly rallying since the start of the year -- with Germany’s DAX up 22 percent, on track to record its best quarter in 12 years -- as global investors bet that a weaker euro would boost the region’s economy and corporate earnings.
The euro has fallen by about 25 percent against the dollar over the past year. This should give euro zone companies a major lift as roughly 50 percent of euro zone earnings come from outside the region.
But after its recent strong rally, a stabilisation of the dollar following on more dovish tone from the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to trigger a shift in market leadership, JP Morgan strategists said.
“Euro exporters did very well, but are not attractively priced anymore, and the bulk of the foreign exchange support might be behind us,” the strategists wrote in a note, cutting the luxury sector to ‘neutral’ from ‘overweight’ and reiterating their recommendation to take profits on the auto sector.
Shares in Louis Vuitton owner LVMH dropped 2.9 percent on Monday and Christian Dior fell 3.6 percent.
Shares in automakers also lost ground, with both Renault and Daimler down 1.9 percent.
Shares in Deutsche Bank’s bucked the trend, rising 3.2 percent. The German lender’s retail operations will bear the brunt of its planned restructuring and will most likely be spun off in a stock market listing, two sources familiar with internal discussions said on Saturday.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up ($1 = 0.9268 euros) (Editing by Andrew Heavens)