* Pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index down 0.3 pct
* Frankfurt shares outperform
* Greece in focus as cash crunch looms (Adds share moves, comments)
By Atul Prakash and Lionel Laurent
LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - European shares slipped on Monday, with German auto stocks among the few bright spots, as energy earnings, persistent concerns over Greece’s cash crunch and looming share sales in the banks sector sapped investor appetite.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.3 percent at 1,567.90 points at 1049 GMT, with most national benchmark indexes in negative territory. A recent rollercoaster sell-off in the bond market has taken some of the wind out of European stock-market sails, with top shares down 5 percent from April peaks.
Shares of Austrian energy group OMV sank more than 7 percent after it reported a halving of headline profit as low oil prices weighed on its upstream business. It also warned it was unlikely to resume production in war-torn Libya or Yemen before winter.
Greek shares and bonds also took a hit, with Athens’ looming cash crunch in focus after the Greek government said it would need an agreement with international creditors by the end of the month. The European Commission said the pace of reform needed to speed up in Greece for a deal to be reached.
“European equity indexes are having a mixed start to the week...the absence of a deal between Athens and Brussels is weighing on sentiment,” strategists at Aurel-BGC wrote in a note.
The financials sector was particularly volatile, with Italian bank Monte dei Paschi down more than 2 percent ahead of a plan to sell new shares starting next week. French lenders Societe Generale and Credit Agricole were down 2 to 3 percent.
Nomura analyst Jon Peace on Monday downgraded Credit Agricole to “Neutral” on valuation grounds, though kept SocGen in a list of banking stocks to buy.
The Frankfurt DAX index outperformed, however, helped by a 2 percent rise in shares of Volkswagen after analysts at Deutsche Bank cited efficiency gains at the company and hiked their target price to 280 euros from 230 euros.
Shares in BHP Billiton were trading around 3 percent higher, having opened sharply lower after spun-off unit South32 started trading with a market value of nearly $9 billion on Monday, a third below the top end of forecasts. Analysts said this underlined investor nerves about the outlook for the battered mining sector. (Additional reporting by Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier; Editing by Toby Chopra)