Wires

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks lower ahead of U.S. earnings season

* World shares fall on global growth concerns

* U.S. earnings season set to put fresh focus on slowdown

* Oil dips below $112 as World Bank cuts Asian growthoutlook

* Euro edges down 0.5 pct to $1.2966 By Richard Hubbard

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Stocks, oil and gold fell onMonday as investors took positions ahead of corporate earningsin the United States that are expected to reflect the impact ofslowing global growth.

Several big companies, including FedEx andHewlett-Packard , have issued profit warnings before theearnings season which starts on Tuesday. This has unnervedinvestors and raised concerns as to the extent of the economicgloom.

Parts of Europe are in recession, there is a slowdown inChina and the U.S. economy is only in a weak recovery, promptingthe world's major central banks to ease policies last month.

"I think (analysts) underestimated the extent of the globalslowdown, and maybe are still underestimating it," said JeffKleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.8 percentover the third quarter due to the aggressive stimulus plans bythe central banks, but earnings for the period are forecast tofall 2.4 percent from the year-ago quarter.

European shares were down around 1 percent inmorning trade on the concerns over the earnings outlook, whileAsian shares outside Japan fell 0.9 percentalthough Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.

U.S. stock index futures were also pointing to a lower openon Wall Street, with the S&P 500 futures down 0.4percent. Columbus Day celebrations in United States on Mondaywere likely to limit trading, although stock markets are open.

The weaker tone in the markets also reflected the WorldBank's decision to cuts its estimate for East Asian growthincluding for China, which undid some of the positive sentimentthat followed Friday's sharp drop in U.S. unemployment forSeptember.

"The big bogeyman in the closet is China and everyone istrying to guesstimate if it's going to have a hard landing or asoft landing," said Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNPParibas Fortis Global Markets in Brussels.

The greenback and the safe-haven yen rose after theWorld Bank report, but the higher-yielding Australian dollar, which is particularly sensitive to concerns aboutChina given the countries' close trading links, dropped to athree-month low of $1.0149.

Brent crude for November delivery fell 54 cents at$111.48 a barrel, and the gold price edged down 0.1percent to $1,769 an ounce.

"The World Bank's pessimistic outlook for East Asianeconomies and warning that China's economic slump coulddeteriorate further ... had a hand in pushing prices lower,"said David Wech, head of market analysis at Vienna-basedconsultancy JBC Energy.

EUROPE UNCERTAINTY WEIGHS

In Europe fresh data showed investor sentiment had improvedfor a second consecutive month in October thanks largely to themonetary easing by the central banks and Germany's backing for anew permanent bailout fund for the European currency bloc.

German export data for August also surprised by jumping 2.4percent month-on-month, far outperforming expectations for adrop of 0.5 percent in a Reuters poll of 17 economists.

However, the ongoing uncertainty over the next steps in theregion's debt crisis, coupled with the weak economic outlookweighed on the euro which was 0.5 percent lower at $1.2966, and down from Friday's two-week high of $1.3072.

European investors were focused on a meeting of euro zonefinance ministers who will formally launch the new bailout fund,the European Stability Mechanism. They are also expected todiscuss the problems facing Spain and Greece.

The market was also bracing for German Chancellor AngelaMerkel's visit to Athens on Tuesday. Finance Minister WolfgangSchaeuble on Sunday said that Merkel's trip to Greece did notnecessarily mean Athens would receive the next tranche of aidunder its bailout.

(Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa and ChristopherJohnson.; Editing by Anna Willard)

((richard.hubbard@thomsonreuters.com)(Tel +44 207 5423215))

Keywords: MARKETS GLOBAL/