(Adds futures, live quote, company news, further detail, updates snapshot table)
LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open slightly lower on Friday as expectations for a weak earnings season and lingering uncertainty about Spain's debt crisis kept investors on the back foot after healthy gains in the previous session.
At 0615 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50
and France's CAC
were down 0.4 percent while contracts for Germany's DAX
were down 0.2 percent. Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 15 to 18 points lower, or as much as 0.3 percent.
A rally in U.S. stocks faded in late trade on Thursday and other assets that depend on the economic cycle, such as copper, edged lower on Friday in a sign investor sentiment towards growth remained subdued as much of Europe is mired in a recession and growth in China slows
"Everybody is as long as they're going to be in this defensive mode and would not wish to sell (the market)," Justin Haque, a pan-European trader at Hobart Capital Markets, said.
"When everybody's got it, all you're going to get is this sideways erosion of performance. The problem is there's no great 'light bulb moment' to make everyone cut."
The euro zone blue-chip Euro STOXX 50
equity index rose 1.2 percent on Thursday, rebounding from technical support in the 2,450 area, corresponding to its most recent low in late September, but was still poised for a weekly loss of around 1.7 percent.
Hobart's Haque estimated investors who bought the market during last week's rally, which saw the Euro STOXX 50 rise 3.1 percent, would only start cutting their holdings significantly after a 3-5 percent loss on their position.
The euro zone index was down 4.1 percent from a six-month high hit in mid-September, when intervention pledges by the European Central Bank to help debt-laden countries had fuelled a 26 percent rally from late July.
Spain's hesitance to apply for a bailout, which would pave the way for the ECB intervention, has since unnerved investors, who have turned their focus to the bleak outlook for the European economy and corporate profits in the upcoming reporting season.
Euro zone industrial output figures, due at 0900 GMT, were forecast to show factories in the region cut output by 0.4 percent in August from the previous month, according to a Reuters poll, although market expectations for a stronger reading were rising after estimate-beating figures from individual countries earlier this week.
Investor focus was likely to move to the United States later in the day, when banks JPMorgan Chase & Co.
and Wells Fargo unveil third-quarter results at 1000 GMT and 1100 GMT, respectively.
"For the day ahead, attention will likely shift to the U.S. earnings reports, with JP Morgan and Wells Fargo in focus while uncertainty about the Spanish bailout will remain as a significant downside risk in Eurozone, leaving sentiment cautious," Credit Agricole says in a note.
"Eurozone industrial production will likely print a better outcome than we expected one week ago for August."
Credit Agricole expects the reading to show a 0.8 percent rebound month on month. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 615 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,432. 0.02 % 0.28 4 NIKKEI 8,534. -0.15 % -12.66 2 MSCI ASIA <.MIASJ000 0.31 % 1.61 EX-JP PUS> EUR/USD 1.2937 0.09 % 0.0011 USD/JPY 78.40 0.1 % 0.0800 10-YR US <US10YT=RR 1.686 -- 0.02 TSY YLD 10-YR BUND <EU10YT=RR 1.482 -- 0.00 YLD SPOT GOLD $1,770 0.12 % $2.20 39 US CRUDE $92.31 0.26 % 0.24
GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks steady, set for losing week
> Wall St flat as Apple cuts jobs data gains
> Nikkei flat; slump in Softbank offset by weaker yen
> U.S. Treasuries gain as Europe worries continue
> Euro steadies, yen retreats as risk aversion eases
> Gold flat, set for biggest weekly loss in 2 mths
> Copper down, eyes weekly loss on growth worries
> Brent above $115, eyes best week in two months
COMPANY NEWS THYSSENKRUPP
Japan's JFE holdings' core steel unit, JFE Steel, is weighing plans to bid for ThyssenKrupp AG's North American steel operations, according to Nikkei.
DEUTSCHE TELEKOM Japan's Softbank Corp is looking to buy about 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Corp
. It might use Sprint as a vehicle to make a run at MetroPCS
, which has agreed to merge with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA.
The chief executive of The Dutch paints company has not yet returned from medical leave, and the firm's supervisory board will convene next week to discuss the latest medical advice, AkzoNobel said.
Russian mobile operator MegaFon said on Thursday the make-up of its board would reflect its focus on good corporate governance, as it sought to attract investors for its planned initial public offering (IPO) after Goldman Sachs
dropped out as an underwriter.
Italian oil and gas group Eni expects its operations in Africa, including its jumbo find in Mozambique, to underpin long-term growth as it presses ahead with plans to shift its focus to exploration and production.
The Spanish power firm will target between 4 billion and 6 billion euros of asset disposals and aim to keep its dividend when it presents 2012-2014 guidance on Oct. 24, El Economista reported, without naming sources.
Telefonica has completed a financial restructuring of its German O2-branded subsidiary ahead of the unit's share offer later this month, with over 4 billion euros of cash moved to the Spanish parent, two people familiar with the process said on Thursday.
Belgian medical equipment supplies company Arseus confirmed its outlook for 2012, after a stronger-than-expected performance of its medical IT unit made up for a decline in revenues at its medical supplies business.
NOVARTIS Swiss drugmaker Novartis
said on Friday its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya showed "significant early effect" in reducing brain volume loss at six months, according to a new analysis of two late-stage studies.
Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Aabar sold the remainder of its 3.07 percent stake in Daimler worth about 1.25 billion euros ($1.6 billion) on Oct. 5, the German automotive group said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.
The holding company of German carmaker Porsche has received a fresh lawsuit from the family of a deceased industrialist, linked to its 2008 attempt to take over Volkswagen.
The Swedish truck maker will invest $500 million in Brazil over the next three years to expand production, renewing and expanding its truck lineup after a challenging year for the local market, Chief Executive Olof Persson said on Thursday during a visit to Brazil.
The French utility's 1300-megawatt (MW) Saint-Alban 1 nuclear reactor stopped for an unplanned outage at 1700 GMT on Thursday, French power grid RTE said on its website.
An Air France-KLM flight from Paris to New York was forced to turn back to Charles de Gaulle airport due to a "minor technical problem" with the plane's windshield, a spokesman for the airline said.
The shoemaker has signed a partnership agreement with distributor RI Qing in China as part of its international expansion plans, the company said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
Keywords: MARKETS EUROPE FACTORS