* FTSEurofirst down 0.5 pct
* Brent sinks towards crisis lows
* Resources and auto stocks also fall (Adds detail)
By Alistair Smout and Danilo Masoni
LONDON/MILAN, Dec 14 (Reuters) - European shares turned lower on Monday, falling away after a strong start to touch a 2-1/2 month low as commodity firms suffered from a sell-off in Brent crude.
Energy shares fell 1.8 percent as oil prices hit crisis-era lows on concerns that a glut in supply would deepen in the months to come.
Brent crude oil sank to below $37 a barrel for the first time since December 2008, hitting the shares of the likes of Seadrill, Tullow Oil and OMV, which were all down 2 to 4.5 percent.
Basic resources stocks fell 2.4 percent, giving up early gains. While Chinese data had pointed to signs of stabilisation in the world’s biggest metals consumer, sinking oil and a rising dollar saw copper fall.
China’s activity data was stronger than expected in November, with factory output growth picking up to a five-month high, signalling that a flurry of stimulus measures from Beijing may have put a floor under a fragile economy.
The China data had helped European stocks to a higher open, but the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 gave up gains to trade 0.5 percent lower at 1,390.21 points.
“Oil is the major drag at the moment. In a normal environment, when we see China data as good as what we had over the weekend, that would set the market alight,” Zeg Choudhry, managing director of LONTRAD, said.
“The pressure on crude is the noose around our neck at the moment.”
Exporters also fell. Auto firms were down 0.8 percent having opened higher, with support from a weaker euro largely dissipated by midday.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst fell to its lowest level since early October, with the volatility index VSTOXX, a crude measure of investor caution, rising to its highest level since the same time.
Among risers, South Africa-exposed Old Mutual surged 6.4 percent after the rand advanced following the appointment of a new finance minister in the country.
Veolia rose 2.9 percent after the French water and waste group said it would start paying higher dividends again as it expects core earnings to grow by around 5 percent in the 2016-18 period.
Telecom Italia ordinary shares rose 1.3 percent as a plan to convert saving shares into ordinary stock was seen at risk after top investor Vivendi said it would abstain from voting in favour of the move. Telecom Italia saving shares were down nearly 9 percent.
Today’s European research round-up RCH/EUROPE (Additional reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Alison Williams)