* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, EuroSTOXX 50 down 0.1 pct
* Some positive corporate updates in non-euro markets
* Investor focus shifting to earnings, U.S. rate outlook
By Lionel Laurent
LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - Blue-chip euro zone stocks slipped on Friday, with a recent Greece-driven relief rally showing signs of fading as investor focus shifts to the corporate earnings season and the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike.
The trading day looked set to be dominated by U.S. inflation data due later as well as General Electric’s earnings.
The earnings season is only just getting underway in Europe, with Friday’s batch of results bringing forecast-beating numbers from network supplier Ericsson, appliance maker Electrolux and Swiss fragrance firm Givaudan . Their shares rose 3 to 4.8 percent.
Finland’s Fortum sank more than 6 percent, however, after reporting profits well below market expectations.
Beyond these mixed results, there were no bellwether earnings from euro firms. The EuroSTOXX 50 index was down 0.1 percent at 0743 GMT, giving up some of its gains from the previous session that was fuelled by fresh hopes for a Greek deal and more European Central Bank help for Greek lenders.
“The earnings announcements are mixed and there is a little bit of an anticlimax after the Greece headlines ... A lot of people did not expect the worst to happen and so money had already poured in,” said Markus Huber, trader at brokerage Peregrine & Black.
“Along with the focus on central bank timing of interest rate hikes ... that’s probably why the market is going back and forth.”
For all the uncertainty over Greece, European equities overall are set for their best week since January. Europe and North America were the only regions that saw net inflows over the past week, with equity inflows into Europe rising to $4.1 billion, according to Jefferies.
And while the profit-enhancing falls in the euro and oil prices seen earlier this year are expected to have worked less of their magic on company earnings in the second quarter than in the first, European firms are seen reporting an estimated 5-percent increase in second-quarter profits.
“Unless the ECB firewall breaks and contagion spreads violently across the euro zone, there is upside to European equities over the next 12 months even with our Grexit base case,” Citi strategists wrote in a note.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Mark Potter