* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.05 percent
* Continental down as outlook lift already priced in
* Energy shares lifted by stronger crude
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Nov 9 (Reuters) - European shares were little changed in mid-morning trade on Monday with losses among auto sector stocks led by Continental and Renault offset by gains among energy plays.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.05 percent, having closed up 0.3 percent on Friday, and the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 fell 0.01 percent.
Traders said markets were struggling to find a clear direction and some profit taking was kicking in, although the overall mood was good as the outlook for U.S. interest rates became clearer following a stronger-than-expected jobs report last week.
“For European stocks an added bonus constitutes the renewed weakness in the euro resulting from a shift in U.S. interest rate expectations, making them not only more competitive but also more attractive as an investment,” Pegrine & Black trader Markus Huber said.
Continental fell 4.5 percent as investors cashed in profits after the German tyre maker revised up its full-year profit outlook following an 11 percent quarterly earnings gain on higher car demand in Europe and North America.
A trader said the quarterly report from the Continental was solid, albeit below analysts’ expectations, but investors were taking profit as the higher guidance had already been priced in.
Renault fell 2.3 percent after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday the French government did not want a merger between the car maker and its Japanese partner Nissan.
Atlantia fell 2.4 percent after the Italian operator of highways and airports said it had broken off talks with international investors to sell a minority stake in its Rome airport unit.
German airline Lufthansa fell 2.3 after the company announced hundred of flight cancellations due to a strike action.
Energy stocks were the best performing sector with a gain of 1 percent, as oil futures rose above $47.50 a barrel after OPEC said it expected global demand to remain strong next year.
Ericsson rose 2.4 percent after the telecoms equipment maker and networking group Cisco Systems agreed a partnership expected to generate revenues of $1 billion for each company by 2018.
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Toby Chopra)