* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.3 pct, retreats from near 7-yr high
* Miners hurt by worries over China’s economic growth
* Tesco tumbles after fresh warning
By Blaise Robinson and Atul Prakash
PARIS/LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - European shares fell on Monday, with a benchmark retreating from a near seven-year high touched in the previous session, as concerns over the pace of growth in China knocked lower mining heavyweights such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
Shares in UK supermarket chain Tesco were also among the biggest losers, sinking 7.3 percent after the group slashed its earnings forecast - its third warning this year - after finding a fault in its accounts.
Shares in Tesco’s rivals also took a beating, with J. Sainsbury down 2.5 percent and Morrisons down 2 percent.
“Tesco has dealt investors a severe blow to confidence, with fellow food retailers also suffering,” Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
“Concerns regarding China, comments from the Finance Minister and whether additional economic stimulus will be applied also appears to be hitting investor sentiment.”
The mining sector was by far the biggest drag on the market, with the STOXX 600 Europe basic resources index down 1.9 percent, hurt by demand concerns ahead of this week’s manufacturing data from top metal consumer China, expected to show stalling factory growth.
Shares in Rio were down 3 percent and BHP Billiton was down 1.9 percent, falling along with metal prices such as copper, nickel, zinc and aluminium.
Iron ore prices also tumbled, plagued by worries about excess supply. Spot iron ore prices have tumbled by nearly 40 percent this year, sparking speculation that big London-listed miners will have to slash their dividends.
On Sunday, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said the country will not dramatically alter its economic policy because of any one economic indicator, in remarks that came after many economists lowered growth forecasts having seen the latest set of weak data.
“News out of China where finance minister Lou poured cold water on hopes that China will take further measures to boost its economy is souring sentiment for stocks,” Markus Huber, senior analyst at Peregrine & Black, said.
At 1054 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,396.92 points, after hitting a near seven-year high on Friday in a relief rally after Scotland voted against independence.
Later in the session, investors’ focus will turn to the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who is scheduled to testify at the European Parliament. The market will look for hints on further measures the ECB might take to support the region’s economic recovery.
The low take-up at the first round of cheap four-year loans offered by the ECB last week has deepened doubts about the central bank’s stimulus efforts and could push it to take more radical measures, although resistance remains in Germany to a U.S.-style money-printing programme.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Toby Chopra)