* European shares open lower in cautious trade
* Dollar, euro extend losses vs yen ahead of BOJ meeting
* Asia shares outside Japan down before Friday's China data
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - European shares edged down on
Thursday as concerns grow over the outlook for growth and
corporate earnings, while oil prices gained support after
Islamist militants attacked an Algerian gas field.
Worries about the global economic outlook have revived since
the World Bank cut its 2013 forecast for global growth to 2.4
percent from its previous estimate of 3 percent, citing the
prospect of poor performance across the developed world.
A massive $14 billion writedown at global mining giant Rio
Tinto amid fears weak growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 will
result in poor corporate results has further undermined investor
"The market will remain predominantly in a consolidation
mood following a cautious outlook on earnings. I think European
companies will disappoint a bit," said Christian Stocker, equity
strategist at UniCredit in Munich.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
slipped nearly 0.1 percent to 1,159.00 points in early trade.
London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and
Frankfurt's DAX were flat to 0.3 percent lower.
"There's been a mixed bag on the earnings front so far,"
said Darren Easton, director of trading at Logic Investments.
"In the short-term, we're in the bear camp," he added.
MSCI's broadest index of Asian shares outside Japan
fell 0.2 percent, extending declines for a third
The falls were led by a slump in Chinese stocks as
investors retreated ahead a slew of key economic data due on
Friday including fourth-quarter GDP, December industrial output,
retail sales and house prices.
Oil prices, which are under pressure from the prospects of
weaker demand in 2013, gained support from concerns about
supplies being affected by military activity in Algeria and
Islamist fighters seized dozens of Western and Algerian
hostages in a dawn raid on a natural gas facility deep in the
Sahara on Wednesday and demanded France halt a new offensive
against rebels in neighbouring Mali.
Brent added 2 cents to $109.70 a barrel, though U.S.
oil slipped 10 cents to $94.14.
In the debt market, yields on safe-have German bonds were
creeping lower as equity markets softened, but investors were
reluctant to make big bets before a Spanish debt sale.
Spain plans to tap the market for up to 4.5 billion euros in
short and long-term bonds and is expected to see good demand and
sharply lower yields as the European Central Bank's promise to
support the debt of struggling nations has encouraged investors.
The dollar and the euro were choppy, as both currencies
pared back some of their recent big gains against the yen after
a Japanese official this week expressed concerns about excessive
The yen is expected to remain on a weakening trend amid
expectations for bolder BOJ monetary easing measures at its Jan.
21-22 policy meeting as part of the new government's push to
drive Japan out of years of deflation and economic slump.
The dollar rose 0.25 percent to 88.60 yen, off its
peak since June 2010 of 89.67 touched on Monday, while
the euro gained 0.4 percent to 117.95 yen, after
surging to its highest since May 2011 of 120.13 yen on Monday.
"The BOJ will probably disappoint to some degree. They'll
deliver what the market expects but no more than that," said
Gareth Berry, G10 FX strategist for UBS in Singapore.