Oil and Gas

European shares down at midday; autos, commods hit

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent by midday

* Commodity stocks track lower metal, crude prices

* Autos, banks slip on concerns about economic slowdown

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - European shares slipped by midday on Friday, hurt by weaker mining and energy stocks that tracked a drop in commodity prices, while persistent worries about a global economic downturn put pressure on automobiles and banks.

At 1145 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was 0.4 percent lower at 849.12 points after falling as low as 843.22. It has risen more than 11 percent this week and is on track for the third biggest weekly percentage gain on record.

The index is still down 8.7 percent on the month and down 44 percent this year, however, reflecting a credit crisis that has hit banks and pushed the global economy towards a recession.

Weaker metals prices put pressure on mining stocks. Anglo American AAL.L, Vedanta Resources VED.L, Lonmin LMI.L, Kazakhmys KAZ.L, Xstrata XTA.L, Antofagasta ANTO.L and Rio Tinto RIO.L fell between 1.6 and 6.5 percent.

Energy stocks followed crude prices CLc1, which fell below $54 a barrel. Total TOTF.PA fell nearly 2 percent, BP BP.L was down 1 percent and Tullow Oil TLW.L shed 2.3 percent.

“Going into the weekend, one can’t help but worry that we are only a heartbeat away from the next scare story,” said Chris Hossain, senior sales manager at ODL Securities.

“The markets appear to have been buoyed by the feeling that the U.S. will be bailing out the auto industry, but one has to wonder how much more the global governments can continue to support troubled industries,” he added.

The automobile sector took the most points off the index. Daimler AG DAIGn.DE fell 6 percent, Porsche PSHG_p.DE was down 4.6 percent and Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE shed 2.7 percent, on growing concerns about a global economic slowdown.


Canada joined the growing number of nations officially in recession, with Japan, Germany, Italy and the euro zone as a whole already on the list and the United States and Britain expected to get there soon. [ID:nN27411212]

Euro zone inflation plunged to 2.1 percent in November and unemployment rose faster than anticipated, data showed, boosting expectations of a deep interest rate cut by the ECB next week as the economy shrinks. [ID:nLS508964]

“Interest rate cuts are not going to immediately impact on financial markets, as far as I’m concerned. Whether it’s equity markets or other markets, it’s going to take time,” said Neil Parker, a strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Central banks have slashed interest rates to get credit flowing again and governments have pledged trillions of dollars in bank bailouts, extra spending and tax cuts to kick-start their economies and avoid massive job losses.

Banks were also weaker. Barclays BARC.L declined 1.3 percent, HSBC HSBA.L shed 1.4 percent, Royal Bank of Scotland RBS.L fell 3.8 percent and UBS UBSN.VX was down 3.8 percent

Britain bought a 58 percent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland as the state picked up 15 billion pounds ($23 billion) of shares in the lender after investors shunned a rescue plan.

Commerzbank CBKG.DE shares surged 7 percent after it sealed its takeover of Dresdner Bank ahead of time late on Thursday, paying less than market participants had feared.

German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp TKAG.DE posted better-than-expected full-year pretax profit, but declined to propose a higher dividend and gave no profit forecast for the current year. Its shares were up 0.3 percent.

Across Europe, Britain's FTSE .FTSE was up 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX .GDAXI fell 0.7 percent and France's CAC .FCHI lost 1 percent. (Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Simon Jessop)