LONDON, March 4 European equity futures indicated a lower open to stock markets on Monday, with traders citing concerns over U.S. budget cuts, Italy's political deadlock and Chinese plans for tighter controls on its property sector as reasons for the likely fall. The March futures contract for the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.9 percent, while futures contracts for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC fell 0.8 percent. A sell-off in Chinese equities dragged Asian shares down sharply on Monday, as worries about Beijing tightening its grip on the property sector compounded weak sentiment already dampened by a patchy global growth outlook. "It's the change in the property rules in China that is hitting sentiment," said Terry Torrison, managing director at Monaco-based McLaren Securities. Capital Spreads dealer Jonathan Sudaria added that ongoing concerns over U.S. budget cuts - referred to as the "sequester" - would also continue to prevent equity markets from gaining much ground in the near term. "European equity markets are set to edge lower on the open as sequester uncertainty bites," Sudaria wrote in a research note. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.2 percent to 1,168.64 points on Friday while the Euro STOXX 50 dropped 0.6 percent to 2,626.75 points. However, Torrison expected investors to continue to use falls in the stock market to move in to buy up shares for relatively cheap prices, which would prevent any major decline on equity markets. "I don't see any reason for panicking out. We've had a great run but people are still finding more value in equities than bonds," he said. HSBC will dominate the European earnings front when it reports full-year results on Monday, with the bank expected to announce a 2012 pre-tax profit of around $23 billion, according to the average of 28 analysts polled by Reuters. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0731 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,518.20 0.23 % 3.52 NIKKEI 11,652.2 0.4 % 45.91 9 MSCI ASIA <.MIASJ0000P 546.05 -1.58 % -8.79 EX-JP US> EUR/USD 1.2992 -0.22 % -0.0028 USD/JPY 93.41 -0.16 % -0.1500 10-YR US TSY 1.834 -- -0.01 YLD 10-YR BUND YLD 1.396 -- -0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,576.8 0.12 % $1.94 0 US CRUDE $90.29 -0.43 % -0.39 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares tumble; property curbs spark China sell-off > US STOCKS-Wall Street advances as data outweighs budget cuts > Nikkei gains on BOJ governor hope, but futures trade suspension trims gains > TREASURIES-Prices rise as spending cuts point to weaker growth > FOREX-Yen up broadly on safe-haven flows as China equities slump on property curbs > PRECIOUS-Gold prices firm on Asia buying, upbeat US data weighs > METALS-Copper steady on bargain hunting; China property worries weigh > Brent slips towards $110 as U.S. spending cuts kick in COMPANY NEWS: AB INBEV : Budweiser-maker Anheuser-Busch InBev defended itself against allegations it is watering down its alcoholic drinks by taking out full-page advertisements in newspapers across the United States. BANK OF IRELAND : Bank of Ireland reported a full-year underlying operating profit of 242 million euros ($314.21 million). DEUTSCHE BANK : Indian real estate developer Unitech said Friday it wants to add allegations linked to the manipulation of Libor to an existing dispute with Deutsche Bank, in a move that could set a precedent for cases against other banks. FRENCH TAKEOVER RULES: French markets regulator AMF has submitted proposals to the government to counter hostile takeovers, including requiring bidders to win at least 50 percent shareholder acceptance, the business daily Les Echos said on Sunday. LINDE : The world's No.2 industrial gases group will likely appoint a new chief executive from outside the company when Wolfgang Reitzle steps down at the end of his contract in May 2014, its two top managers told a German paper. VIVENDI : French conglomerate Vivendi reaffirmed on Monday that it would propose the appointment of French industrialist Vincent Bollore to its supervisory board at its annual shareholder meeting on April 30.