LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - European shares edged down in early trading on Monday, with BHP Billiton leading the market lower after a cautious debut for its spin-off South32 and Austrian energy group OMV falling after a drop in profits.
BHP Billiton's shares fell 5 percent after its spin-off South32 started trading with a market value of nearly $9 billion on Monday, a third below the top end of forecasts and underlining investor nerves about the outlook for the battered mining sector.
OMV shares fell 1.8 percent after its first-quarter underlying operating profit fell by half to 333 million euros ($380.3 million) as oil prices dropped, beating market expectations.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.1 percent at 1,571.25 points by 0714 GMT. Italy's FTSE MIB index fell more than 1 percent as several companies in the index traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)