* Greece concerns, U.S. rate hike prospects dampen sentiment
* Telecom Italia up on report Vivendi to increase stake
* Rise in oil price lifts energy stocks
* Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
* Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) - European stock markets edged lower on Wednesday as persistent concerns over Greece’s debt problems offset gains in Telecom Italia and shares in energy companies.
Traders were also reluctant to add to equity positions before a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the day, with many investors expecting the Fed to signal that U.S. interest rates will be raised in September.
Athens’ benchmark ATG equity index fell 2.3 percent, underperforming a 0.2 percent decline on the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index. Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 percent, while France’s CAC shed 0.6 percent.
Car parts maker Valeo dropped 4.8 percent after Credit Suisse cut its price target on the stock, while Danish medical equipment maker Coloplast retreated 3.5 percent after cutting its forecasts.
However, Telecom Italia outperformed, rising 2.4 percent after sources told Reuters that Vivendi was planning to increase its stake.
A rise in Brent crude oil prices also boosted energy stocks .
Nevertheless, some traders said they would look to use any bounce in share prices as a cue to sell, given the concerns in the background over Greece’s debt deadlock.
“We’re looking to sell into strength here,” Logic Investments director, Darren Easton, said.
Easton said the DAX could fall by 1,000-2,000 points if no deal was reached over the country’s debts and Greece was forced to leave the euro zone.
The Athens’ ATG equity index has fallen about 17 percent since the start of 2015, underperforming a 12-percent advance on the FTSEurofirst 300.
Stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) have cushioned blows from Greece on other European economies.
And some investors said any Greek debt default may have a limited impact on the broader market as Greece represents only a small amount of the European economy. They also highlighted ongoing monetary support from the ECB.
“We continue to see value in Europe, irrespective of a possible Grexit (Greece leaving the euro zone). Whilst economic momentum in the region is admittedly fragile, it is tangible and moving in the right direction,” J.P. Morgan Asset Management global market strategist, Vincent Juvyns, said.
“Any sell-off triggered by a Grexit scenario, we would consider a buying opportunity,” he said.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by Louise Ireland)