Wires

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat, eyes on Europe

Share

* European shares hit fresh 2012 low

* Weekly jobless claims steady, worries persist

* Wal-Mart shares rise after results

* Futures: Dow up 10 pts, S&P up 1 pt, Nasdaq off 0.5 pt

(Adds comment, updates prices)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open little changed on Thursday following a choppy futures session as investors focused on concerns about Spain's economy and banking system and reacted to headlines from Greece.

News that some Greek banks face emergency funding needs hurt sentiment and caused a decline in risk assets which have already dropped over the past weeks. Greek politicians who reject conditions for a bailout that is keeping the country's finances afloat are seen likely to win next month's election, adding to worries about Greece leaving the euro zone.

Spain's medium-term borrowing costs rose sharply in a Thursday auction of 3- and 4- year bonds, hardly affecting broad views that Spanish yields are likely to rise further in coming weeks.

"We hadn't seen an auction that went that poorly in Spain since last year, but that's an offshoot of what is really happening, the debate over whether Greece stays or not in the euro zone," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

Giving investors some respite, Japan's economy grew 1.0 percent in the first quarter, slightly more than expected. A 0.2 percent contraction in the final quarter of 2011 for the world's third-largest economy was revised up to flat.

S&P 500 futures

edged up 1 point and were flat in terms of fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures

added 10 points and Nasdaq 100 futures

fell 0.5 points.

Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported that customers at troubled Spanish lender Bankia had taken out more than 1 billion euros over the past week. The Spanish government denied the report and Bankia shares

fell 11 percent after sliding more than 20 percent earlier.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index

fell 0.8 percent after hitting a fresh 2012 low. A gauge of European bank stocks

dropped 2 percent.

Wal-Mart

shares jumped 3.4 percent in premarket trading after the world's largest retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Sears Holdings Corp

rose more than 8 percent premarket after the company said it plans to spin off a large part of its stake in its Canada unit to better focus on its U.S. business.

Futures trading continued choppy after data showed claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged last week, according to government data.

(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)

((rodrigo.campos@thomsonreuters.com)(+1.646.223.6344)(Reuters Messaging: rodrigo.campos.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

((For multimedia versions of Reuters Top News: 3000 Xtra: visit

BridgeStation: view story .134 ==============================================================

For running updates on what's moving U.S. stocks:

==============================================================

For other U.S. market data and news:

U.S. Equities speed guide........................

S&P 500 index ........................................

Dow Jones industrial average..........................

Nasdaq Composite index...............................

Nasdaq 100............................................

Thomson Reuters US Index .......................

Russell 2000 small cap................................

S&P major sectors..............................

NYSE most active.....................................

Nasdaq most active...................................

Top NYSE pct gainers.................................

Top NYSE pct losers..................................

Top Nasdaq pct gainers...............................

Top Nasdaq pct losers................................

52 week highs:

NYSE...............

Nasdaq..............

52 week lows:

NYSE...............

Nasdaq..............

Main global stock indexes and market reports:

FTSE Eurotop 300 .....

European report .......

Nikkei 225.............

Tokyo report............

FTSE 100...............

London report...........

Xetra DAX.............

Frankfurt market stories

CAC-40.................

Paris market stories...

World Indices.....................................

Reuters survey of world bourse outlook.........

U.S. IPO diary........................................

U.S. Asset Allocation Table.......................

More Reuters News on equities at a glance:

Equities ............

US company news.........

Key non-equities market reports:

Foreign exchange......................................

Oil....................................................

US Treasuries.........................................

International bonds...................................

Gold.......................................

or

CRB index of commodity futures........................

.))

Keywords: MARKETS USA STOCKS