LONDON, Nov 16 European stocks are seen opening flat on Friday, within their recent range, with investors positioning for a tough start to budget talks in the United States and Europe's poor economic prospects. At 0727 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX and France's CAC were flat. Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 6 to 8 points lower, or as much as 0.1 percent. The Euro STOXX 50 index fell 11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,461.63 points on Thursday after data showed the euro zone had slipped into recession and on fears of a deadlock in U.S. talks aimed at avoiding a 'fiscal cliff' of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. U.S. Democrats and Republicans were hardening their positions as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders prepared for budget and tax negotiations on Friday, with a top Republican vowing to overhaul the U.S. tax code next year. "It's going to be a tough market in the next few weeks because we're going to get a lot of rumours coming out about whether there is a deal or not," Markus Huber, a senior trader at ETX Capital, said. "People are ready to sell it off but nobody wants to make the first move and risk being caught short because you had several rebounds." The Euro STOXX 50 was down 5.1 percent from a seven-month closing high hit in mid-September, as macro economic concerns were compounded by a worsening outlook for corporate earnings. With more than 90 percent of the third-quarter earnings season now behind us, the picture remains mixed, with 43 percent of companies missing consensus estimates, Thomson Reuters Starmine data showed. "This week's earlier verbal skirmishes (among U.S. lawmakers) have painted a particularly hard line stance on both sides so if the talks prove to be as equally uncompromising markets could take another leg lower," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a trading note. MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0737 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,353.33 -0.16 % -2.16 NIKKEI 9,024.16 2.2 % 194.44 MSCI ASIA EX-JP -0.2 % -1.04 EUR/USD 1.2759 -0.15 % -0.0019 USD/JPY 81.11 -0.04 % -0.0300 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.586 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.336 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,714.30 -0.05 % -$0.89 US CRUDE $85.38 -0.08 % -0.07 Asia stocks steady, Nikkei rallies on easing hopes > Wall St ends flat as wary investors stay defensive > Nikkei gains 1.9 pct; exporters jump on easing call > TREASURIES-Prices edge up on "fiscal cliff," Israel worries > Yen steadies vs dollar, euro after 2-day plunge > Gold inches down; global economic uncertainty weighs > Copper eyes first week of gains in six on China prospects > Brent steady at $108, Mideast violence hikes supply fears COMPANY NEWS HENKEL The German maker of Persil washing powder and Schwarzkopf hair products, said on Friday it was still on course to reach an operating margin of 14 percent this year. BAYER Reckitt Benckiser made a rival $1.4 billion offer for Schiff Nutrition International late on Thursday, topping Bayer's agreed $1.2 billion deal to acquire the U.S. vitamin maker. ALCATEL LUCENT The telecom equipment maker is looking at options including asset-backed financing to strengthen its balance sheet, it said on Thursday. VINCI The French construction and concession company has secured a $366 million contract to build a third bridge over the Panama canal. TELECOM ITALIA VIVENDI The Italian telecoms group's board will discuss a potential bid for Vivendi's Brazil's GVT on December 6, Chief Operating Officer Marco Patuano said on Thursday. The board will also discuss a plan to spin off the phone company's fixed-line network at the board. An investment offer from Naguib Sawiris is one option to finance the GVT bid, Patuano said. FRANCE TELECOM The French phone company could look at options for its British joint venture mobile operator EE at the end of next year, including listing some shares or bringing in a minority investor, its CFO said. FIAT Chrysler Group LLC will invest $238 million in two plants in Michigan to boost engine production to meet U.S. demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, the U.S. automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA said on Thursday. EADS Airbus announced the sale of two A340 passenger jets to a UK services company on Thursday, marking the final deliveries of its longest-range model but also one of its least profitable. PUBLICIS The French advertising group struck a cautious note on the prospects for global advertising at the end of 2012 and 2013, saying they did not know how their clients would react in the future.