LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Tuesday, with the market consolidating below eight-month highs set last week and looking to U.S. data for reassurance on the strength of global economic growth. Underscoring concerns about the health of the world economy, Germany's Metro AG, the world's fourth largest retailer, said it did not expect earnings to grow in 2012, while mining giant BHP Billiton reported signs of "flattening" iron ore demand in China. "Strategically, I am bullish on equities," Neil Dwane, chief investment officer for Europe at Allianz Global Investors/RCM, said. "The thing is that they have rallied quite a long way, so it's harder to be as confident when you think: have we solved any of the economic issues?" At 0731 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX, for France's CAC and for Britain's FTSE were all down around 0.3 percent. The Euro STOXX 50 index of euro zone bluechips closed flat on the day at 2,608.42 on Monday, just three points below its highest intra-day level since August, which was set on Friday. The index is up 12.6 percent since the start of the year after slumping 17 percent in 2011. Based on its six most recent highs and lows, the index faces resistance at 2,646 points, said Simon Smollett, technical analyst at Credit Agricole CIB. With investors currently favouring European companies that are exposed to U.S. economic growth, U.S. housing starts data at 1230 GMT and a testimony by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at 1400 GMT were likely to be the highlights of a relatively light events calendar on Tuesday.. To date, 55 percent of euro zone bluechips have missed earnings forecasts with 2011 results compared with 32 percent of U.S. peers, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0731 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,409.75 0.4 % 5.58 NIKKEI 10,141.99 0.12 % 12.16 MSCI ASIA EX-JP -0.5 % -2.66 EUR/USD 1.3229 -0.06 % -0.0008 USD/JPY 83.40 0.04 % 0.0300 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.375 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 2.069 -- 0.03 SPOT GOLD $1,654.66 -0.35 % -$5.74 US CRUDE $107.43 -0.61 % -0.66 * GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares fall, led by China; euro steady * US STOCKS-S&P within 10 pct of record high; Apple up on div plan * Nikkei gains for 5th day; Fanuc, Komatsu advance * TREASURIES-Bonds resume sell-off, yields hit 4-1/2 month highs * FOREX-Dollar stuck near one-week low; Aussie falters * PRECIOUS-Gold edges down, positive US outlook dents demand * METALS-Copper slips on low China buys; Greek boost fades * Brent falls near $125 on Libyan supply, China fuel hike COMPANY NEWS: METRO AG The world's fourth largest retailer, said it did not expect earnings to grow in 2012 due to a stuttering global economy and costs from expanding its cash and carry and consumer electricals stores businesses. GLENCORE The commodities giant, partnered with Canada's Richardson International Ltd and Agrium Inc, is close to a deal to buy Viterra Inc, Canada's biggest grain handler, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. BHP BILLITON, RIO TINTO BHP, the world's biggest miner, said it was seeing signs of "flattening" iron ore demand from China, though for now it was pushing ahead with ambitious plans to expand production. Rival Rio Tinto said it too was sticking with plans to raise capacity from its huge mines in Western Australia's Pilbara iron ore belt, betting on a soft landing for the Chinese economy. TIETO The Finnish IT services group said it aimed to cut 1,300 jobs to save 50 million euros ($66 million) annual costs, as it set targets through 2016. DEUTSCHE BOERSE The exchange plans to sue the European Commission for blocking its $9 billion merger with NY SE Euronext, to recoup merger costs and keep the door open for future deals in the derivatives markets.. ROCHE The first generic versions of Roche's bone-strengthening drug Boniva have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. DEUTSCHE BANK, DEUTSCHE POSTBANK Postbank is mulling a profit and loss transfer agreement with majority owner Deutsche Bank that foresees offering Postbank minority shareholders 25.18 euros per share tendered or a dividend of 1.89 euros per share. Separately, Postbank said Frank Strauss would become CEO on July 1. Also, sources said Deutsche Bank's head of corporate and investment banking in Asia-Pacific, Loh Boon Chye, is leaving the bank. ASTRAZENECA The drugmaker has thrown in the towel on an experimental antidepressant licensed from Targacept after remaining late-stage clinical trials failed, dealing a fresh - but widely expected - blow to its pipeline.