European Shares set to Ease, Barclays Reports

European shares were expected to open down on Thursday in a heavy session for earnings, when Barclays, Credit Agricole and Zurich Financial report results.

Financial spreadbetters in London expect Britain's FTSE 100 to open 6 to 11 points lower; Germany's DAX to open 12 to 16 points down and France's CAC-40 to open 1 to 10 points lower.

Asian and U.S. stocks benefited from tame U.S. inflation data on Wednesday, a recovery in the dollar and a drop in the price of crude oil.

Barclays will likely provide direction for the financial sector. Analysts expect the company to attempt to seek some sort of outside investor or find an innovative fix to shore up its balance sheet rather than follow rivals with a rights issue. Royal Bank of Scotland and mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley have tapped investors for extra cash after the credit crunch hit.

In continental Europe, Bayer could influence the broader pharmaceuticals sector after U.S. regulators said the company was removing remaining supplies of its heart-surgery drug Trasylol from the U.S. market after a long-awaited study found it raised the risk of death compared to two alternatives.