* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index steady
* Focus on speeches of ECB, BoE and Fed chiefs
* Vodafone shares gain, Richemont slips
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index steadied around the previous session’s three-week highs on Friday, with investors focusing on speeches from leading central bankers due later in the day for hints about the market’s near-term direction.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, along with other central bankers, will be addressing an ECB Forum in Portugal later in the day.
Attention will also fall on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who is due to speak on the U.S. economic outlook before the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce late on Friday.
“There are plenty of speakers on the calendar today,” Markus Huber, senior analyst at Peregrine & Black, said. “Most attention is likely to (be on) Janet Yellen in case she provides traders with any new hints how far off the first rise in U.S. rates might be.”
“Overall sentiment remains positive, however trading volume is expected to be moderate at best with many markets closed for trading on Monday.”
UK and U.S. markets are shut on Monday for the Spring Bank Holiday and Memorial Day respectively. European centres such as Germany will be observing the Whit Monday holiday.
The European index was down 0.1 percent at 1,618.14 points by 0820 GMT after rising to its highest level since late April on Thursday, when the U.S. S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index, up nearly 3 percent so far this week, headed for its best weekly gains in more than a month.
Across Europe, Greece’s ATG share index rose 1 percent after a government spokesman said that Greece expected to reach a cash-for-reforms deal with its creditors in the next 10 days and aimed to meet all its payments in June.
Among individual sharp movers, Cartier owner Richemont fell about 2 percent after reporting an 8 percent fall in April sales at constant exchange rates as well as a lower net profit and said trading continued to remain difficult in its big markets of Hong Kong and Macau.
Vodafone rose 4 percent on upgrades from Citi and Deutsche Bank, with both citing comments earlier in the week from Liberty Global chairman John Malone that Vodafone would be a “great fit” for the company. Goldman Sachs also said that following an investor meeting on Thursday, it believed the company was considering a range of options.
Germany’s Deutsche Bank, media group ProSiebenSat.1 and Deutsche Telekom fell 2.1 to 3.6 percent as their shares traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Keith Weir