GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares flat as investors look for earnings clarity
* China's second-quarter slowdown not as sharp as feared
* U.S. retail sales weak, but Citigroup rises on earnings
* European shares track Asian gains after Chinese data
* Oil firm at 3-1/2-month high, copper sheds gains
NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - Stock markets around the world were little changed on Monday as investors awaited the onslaught of corporate earnings to be released this week, which could help offset signs of weakness in the economy.
Markets were held back by a weak read on U.S. retail sales, though a milder-than-expected slowdown in China's economic growth lifted shares in Asia and Europe.
The U.S. dollar edged slightly higher while the euro fell on continued expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will be first among the major central banks to scroll back on ultra-loose monetary policy. Yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose and Bunds rebounded.
U.S. retail sales rose 0.4 percent in June, only half the 0.8 percent economists polled by Reuters had expected. The disappointment was tempered by accelerating growth in New York State's manufacturing sector in July, according to a report from the New York Fed that provides one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.
The mixed picture added to the debate over when and how quickly the Fed would start to slow its stimulus program, which has been widely credited with driving major stock indexes to all-time highs.
European stocks rose 0.3 percent, as the Chinese data eased fears over a slowdown in China, the world's second largest economy. U.S. shares were flat, supported by strong earnings at Citigroup Inc. Shares of the bank rose 2.1 percent to $51.87, and the S&P 500 financial industry sector index gained 0.3 percent.
"There aren't many sellers in the market, but there's a sense that with earnings coming up, everyone is lined up waiting for the gun to go off," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Rockwell Securities in New York. "Retail sales were disappointing, but Citigroup had good news. But that news was largely expected."
While earnings for the second quarter have largely come in stronger than expected so far, only a small percentage of S&P 500 components have reported to date. This week will see results from dozens of components, including numerous Dow components.
U.S. shares were also boosted by Boeing Co, which jumped 3 percent to $104.91 as an investigation into a fire that broke out on one of the company's 787 Dreamliners did not blame the plane's batteries.
China's economic growth cooled to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, while other figures showed a healthy rise in retail sales and a minor undershoot of forecasts in industrial output. Shares in Shanghai rose 1 percent.
Comments by Beijing last week had led markets to think the numbers might have been weaker, so the outcome brought relief. Commodities initially drove higher, but like stocks faced some profit-taking following a strong week last week.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.79 points, or 0.05 percent, at 15,472.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.16 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,681.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.02 points, or 0.11 percent, at 3,604.10.
The MSCI world index rose 0.2 percent.
Oil slipped from a 3-1/2-month high as it hovered just under $109 a barrel, while copper, gold and silver all nursed minor losses.
The Australian dollar, closely attuned to China's fortunes due to the country's appetite for Aussie raw materials, lost some of its post-data ground to stand 0.2 percent higher at $0.9095. The U.S. dollar was up 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies . The euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.3053, rebounding from a session low of $1.2993.
In the bond market, trading was largely subdued. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 12/32, with the yield at 2.5465 percent.
Benchmark German Bund futures were 0.15 percent lower at 143.42, having gained almost two points last week, while a sell-off in Portuguese bonds steadied as traders awaited developments after the country's political troubles.
French bonds gave a Gallic shoulder shrug to a downgrade by Fitch, which on Friday became the last of the big three ratings firms to strip Paris of its AAA status.
"Conservative bond investors, such as reserve managers, used to have triple-A only mandates, but they have adapted to the reality that there aren't many triple-As anymore," said Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, head of global asset allocation at JPMorgan.