Wires

US STOCKS-Wall St to open slightly lower on weak profit outlook

* Alcoa beats expectations but cautions of slowdown

* Yum Brands defies China sluggish growth, raises outlook

* True Religion exploring sale, shares jump

* Futures: Dow off 22 pts, S&P off 1 pt, Nasdaq up 0.25 pt

(Adds comment, updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for aslightly lower open on Wednesday as earnings season started witha warning from Alcoa about slower aluminum consumption,underscoring concerns about sluggish worldwide growth.

Other large companies warned of slowed growth, including Dowcomponent Chevron and engine maker Cummins Inc.

Stronger demand from airplane and automobile producershelped Alcoa

, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, toreport third-quarter results that beat analysts' expectations.Alcoa shares lost 1.6 percent to $8.98 in premarket trade.

Lackluster growth in China, the world's second-largesteconomy, is expected to rein in corporate earnings in the thirdquarter and dent profit forecasts as the Asian nation feels thepinch of the debt crisis in the euro zone, a key tradingpartner.

Earlier in the week, the World Bank cut its growth forecastfor East Asia on concerns China's slowdown could last longerthan expected.

"You've seen very cautionary earnings results and evenforward guidance. Alcoa has good earnings, but their forwardguidance is lackluster. It points to a slow China and slowglobal growth," said Richard Weeks, managing director atHighTower Advisors in Vienna, Virginia.

"The question is when does sentiment change where (bad) newsdampens the market."

Analysts forecast third-quarter earnings of Wall Street'sS&P 500

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

According to data through Tuesday, 94 companies in thebenchmark S&P index have issued negative outlooks, compared with22 positive pre-announcements, for a ratio of 4.3, the weakestshowing since the third quarter of 2001.

Going against general declines was Yum Brands Inc

,

which gained 4.8 percent to $69.20 in premarket trading. The KFCparent company had raised its full-year outlook after sales inChina held up, despite that nation's cooling economy.

S&P 500 futures

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

fell 22points, while Nasdaq 100 futures

added 0.25 point.

The S&P 500 has fallen for three consecutive sessions ongrowing concerns about corporate profits, with the index closingon Thursday near the technical support level of 1,440.

Economic data expected Wednesday include wholesaleinventories for August at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) and the FederalReserve's Beige Book of economic conditions at 2 p.m. (1800GMT).

Chevron Corp

dipped 2 percent to $115.02 inpremarket after the second-largest U.S. oil company warnedthird-quarter profits would be "substantially lower" than in theprevious quarter as a hurricane and maintenance curbed its oiland gas output and a fire hit its refining arm.

U.S. engine maker Cummins Inc

lowered its 2012forecast for a second time this year, citing delays in customerspending due to a weakening global economy, and said it wouldcut up to 1500 jobs. Cummins shares dropped 4.3 percent to$86.90 in premarket.

Earnings from warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp

were a bright spot; the company reported a 27 percent jump infourth quarter profit, on higher sales and membership fees.Costco shares were up 3 percent to $102.60 in premarket trade.

Coming on the heels of a 2013 profit forecast that was cutlast month, FedEx Corp

said it plans to slash costs atits underperforming express air freight and services divisions,with profit improvements of $1.7 billion planned at thoseoperations over the next four years. Shares gained 3.6 percentto $88.66 in premarket.

True Religion Apparel Inc

surged 24.4 percent to$26.17 in premarket trading after the denim maker said it wasevaluating strategic alternatives which could include a possiblesale of the company, after receiving indications of interestfrom third parties.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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

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