(ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon - see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development. See the bottom of the report)
LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - European equities headed for a steady open on Friday, with investors seen avoiding strong bets ahead of a weekend meeting of oil producers, although a major stock index stayed on track to post its best weekly gains since the middle of February.
Crude oil prices were little changed before the meeting, lead by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia, in Qatar on Sunday to discuss freezing output around current levels in an effort to contain a global supply glut that sees some 2 million barrels of crude produced every day in excess of demand.
Miners will be in focus as copper prices, although steady on Friday, were set for their biggest weekly rise in six weeks on signs that growth in China, the world's biggest metals consumer, could be stabilising after first quarter growth hit forecasts and other indicators surprised to the upside.
China's economy grew 6.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, meeting expectations and providing additional evidence that a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy may be bottoming out.
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX, France's CAC and Britain's FTSE were flat to 0.2 percent lower in early trading.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which ended 0.3 percent higher in the previous session, has gained nearly 4 percent so far this week after losses in the previous four weeks in a row. This week's closing is likely to be its best weekly performance since mid-February.
Deutsche Bank agreed to settle U.S. lawsuits accusing it of conspiring with other banks to manipulate gold and silver prices. Terms were not disclosed, but both settlements will include monetary payments by the German bank.
In addition, Deutsche Bank said that an agreement had been reached to sell Maher Terminals USA, LLC, a container terminal in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Also, the London City's status as financial hub is at risk from a Brexit vote, Deutsche Bank's chief executive told the Financial Times.
World No 2 retailer Carrefour said on Friday that sales growth accelerated in the first quarter, reflecting robust sales in Brazil, Spain and Italy, and a lacklustre performance in France, which suffered from tough year-ago comparables.
German daily Handelsblatt said the steelmaker could combine its steel operations with either Tata Steel or Arcelor Mittal, citing industry sources. Foreign players are seen as having better chances of a combination than with domestic players like Salzgitter, the paper said.
European new car sales rose 5.7 percent last month, industry data showed on Friday, despite a fall in sales for Volkswagen's core brand and fewer trading days in March due to Easter.
The French bank has proposed a voluntary redundancy programme for its 6,000-strong corporate and institutional bank in France that could see up to 675 positions lost over the next three years.
French car parts maker Faurecia said its outlook in China was to improve this year despite slower sales in the country in the first quarter.
The French vouchers and prepaid cards group posted a 5.2 percent rise in first-quarter revenue on a like-for-like basis and confirmed its 2016 growth target.
The board of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics has decided to replace its current chief executive Carlo Bozotti, a source close to the matter told Reuters.
Japan's securities watchdog will recommend as early as Friday punishment of Credit Suisse for violations of the country's financial instruments and exchange laws, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
The bank's chairman for the Americas region, Robert Shafir, will leave the Credit Suisse in July, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
U.S Delta Air Lines has not decided which planes to acquire to renew its fleet of single-aisle jets, Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said, as various manufacturers appeared to be vying for a deal.
The Swedish fashion retailer on Friday repeated an earlier published March sales reading of a 2 percent rise in local currencies.
Separately, an FSA filing showed H&M's chairman and biggest owner Stefan Persson had further increased his stake in the company. For more on the company, click on
The election committee of Norway's largest bank is maintaining its recommendation that the board should be reelected, despite the Panama Papers revelation that DNB helped clients set up companies in the Seychelles, committee leader Elbjoerg Loewer told news agency NTB.
Bilfinger on Thursday confirmed it had held talks with Thomas Blades and other potential candidates as the troubled German engineering services group searches for a new chief executive.
Draegerwerk on Thursday said currency headwinds and restructuring costs led to a 63 percent drop in full-year operating profit, forcing the German medical equipment maker to lower its dividend and an accelerate cost cuts.
Anheuser-Busch InBev will invest 1 billion rand ($69 million) to support small South African farmers as part of concessions agreed with the government to secure regulatory approval for its $100 billion-plus takeover of SABMiller , it said on Thursday.
ADVISORY- Reuters plans to replace intra-day European and UK stock market reports with a Live Markets blog on Eikon (see cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets for site in development). In a real-time, multimedia format from 0600 London time through the 1630 closing bell, it will include the best of our market reporting, Stocks Buzz service, Eikon graphics, Reuters pictures, eye-catching research and market zeitgeist. Breaking news and dramatic market moves will continue to be alerted to all clients and we will continue to provide a short opening story and comprehensive closing reports.
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Mike Dolan, Markets Editor EMEA.
Reporting by Atul Prakash