* FTSEurofirst closes up 0.2 pct
* Auto stocks rise as euro dips on FX markets
* Weaker oil prices push down energy stocks (Adds details, updates prices)
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 18 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday, with export-oriented auto stocks recovering as the euro lost some ground against the dollar, while oil stocks fell after a drop in crude prices.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.2 percent, although the index still registered its first weekly loss after rising for the last four weeks.
It ended down 0.3 percent over the course of the week and remains down around 7 percent since the start of 2016, with world markets having been impacted by China-led concerns about a global economic slowdown.
“The drop of the euro is giving some strength to equities,” said ActivTrades analyst Carlo Alberto de Casa said.
The European automobile index rose 1.1 percent, with Fiat Chrysler climbing 2.7 percent while Peugeot gained 1 percent.
Italian banks Banco Popolare also rose after the European Central Bank (ECB) set conditions to approve a planned merger with Banca Popolare di Milano..
However, energy stocks fell as crude oil prices dropped at the end of a fourth consecutive week of gains.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)