Wires

US STOCKS-Futures flat after IMF cuts outlook, earnings eyed

* Alcoa to start earnings season after the close

* European Union finance ministers summit eyed

* Futures: Dow off 6 pts, S&P up 1 pt, Nasdaq off 3 pts

(Adds quote, updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures werelittle changed on Tuesday even after the IMF issued the latestforecast of slower global growth, leaving investors littlereason to buy equities before the start of the U.S. quarterlyearnings season.

The International Monetary Fund cut its projected globaloutput for 2012 to 3.3 percent from 3.5 percent and forecast 3.6percent growth next year. The international lender warned that alack of action by U.S. and European policymakers to fix theireconomic problems could extend the current slump.

The IMF warnings come on the heels of a lowered forecast forgrowth in the East Asia-Pacific region by the World Bank onconcerns China's slowdown could last longer than expected.

Repeated warnings about the economy have left investorscautious before what could be a disappointing earnings seasonafter a rally that has pushed the S&P 500 up nearly 16 percentso far in 2012, lifting it to its highest in nearly five years.

But the market has remained stuck in a range for the pastfew days as investors wait to see how if there are any earningssurprises and what companies expect in the fourth quarter.

"You really have the headwind of slowing economic growth.The IMF warning is just another piece of evidence of thatagainst the backdrop of incredibly loose monetary policy justholding everything in place," said Rick Meckler, president ofinvestment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

"There isn't really the earnings strength to take the marketout of this range," he added

Analysts forecast third-quarter earnings of S&P 500

companies would fall 2.3 percent from the year-ago quarter,according to Thomson Reuters data, which would be the first dropin U.S. quarterly earnings in three years.

Earnings season gets under way when Dow component Alcoa Inc

reports quarterly earnings. Analysts expect Alcoa'sthird-quarter results to show the aluminum company broke even,down from a profit of 15 cents per share a year earlier,according to Thomson Reuters data.

Among large multinationals that have warned about earnings,citing weakness in Europe and China, are FedEx Corp

,Caterpillar Incand Hewlett-Packard Co.S&P 500 futures

added 1 point and were roughly evenwith fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking intoaccount interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on thecontract. Dow Jones industrial average futures

shed 6points, and Nasdaq 100 futures

dipped 3 points.

Investors were also eyeing a euro zone finance ministers'meeting and a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greecefor any signs of progress in dealing with the region's debtcrisis.

On Monday, the euro zone finance ministers and the IMF helda "thorough and robust" debate on Greece but failed to makesignificant progress in deciding how best to get the countryback on track with its bailout program.

According to data, 91 companies in the S&P 500 have issuednegative outlooks versus 21 positive pre-announcements, for aratio of 4.3, the weakest showing since the third quarter of2001.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp

cut its revenue forecastfor the third quarter, as sales of the medical device maker'sheart valve that was expected to drive results fell short ofestimates. Shares plunged 14.4 percent to $91.90 in premarkettrade.

Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc

, the maker of Rayovacbatteries and other consumer products, said it will buy a unitof Stanley Black & Decker Inc

that makes door locks andbath fixtures for $1.4 billion.

European shares gave up early gains and turned negative asconcerns over slowing global growth and its impact on corporateearnings weighed, although charts signaled a bounce back.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

((charles.mikolajczak@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 2235234)(Reuters Messaging:charles.mikolajczak.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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