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Written by: Staff
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LONDON, Apr 4 (Reuters) European stocks slipped on Tuesday with little earnings or takeover news and with a dip in Arcelor also weighing after it unveiled a bid defence.

The world's second biggest steelmaker fell 1 percent after saying it would boost its 2005 dividend and also distribute 5 billion euros to shareholders as it bids to fend off a $25.1 billion unsolicited bid from rival Mittal Steel.

By 0715 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading shares was 0.3 percent weaker at 1,377.05 and the narrower DJ Euro Stoxx 50 was 0.5 percent lower at 3,860.83.

The index gained 0.8 percent on Monday to approach levels last seen in July 2001, extending a 7.5 percent rally from the first quarter caused by a frenzy of takeover stories. Analysts do not expect an immediate pullback despite Tuesday's early dip.

''We believe that this positive trend should persist in the current quarter. Initially, good earnings prospects should be in focus, followed by the dividend season in May,'' strategists at Commerzbank said in a note.

Norwegian energy firms Norsk Hydro and Statoil were also notable fallers after dealers said Lehman Brothers had cut its recommendation on the stocks to underweight and equalweight respectively.

On the rise, German car parts maker Continental gained on positive broker comments after it agreed a $1 billion purchase of Motorola's global automotive electronics business.

UK utility Severn Trent shot up 8 percent after saying it would demerge its Biffa waste-disposal unit.

REUTERS MP RS1740

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