LONDON, May 2 (Reuters) - European shares were set to fall on Thursday, with concerns about the global economy's health and caution ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting prompting investors to trim their trading positions. China's factory-sector growth eased in April as new export orders fell for the first time this year, suggesting the euro zone recession and sluggish U.S. demand may be reining in the country's economic recovery. Data from payrolls processor ADP on Wednesday, when most European bourses were shut for holidays, showed U.S. private sector employers added 119,000 jobs in April, well below expectations. A separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed the manufacturing sector expanded only modestly in April. The ADP report raised concerns about Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls data for April, with the market expecting an addition of 145,000 jobs. March figures came in well below expectations at 88,000, triggering a sharp drop in equities. "Until now, most of the economist thought it was no more than a one time dip. There is some fear that Friday's payroll report may disappoint again," said Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC, in Brussels. Investors' focus will be on the European Central Bank, which is likely to cut its main interest rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 0.5 percent on Thursday. Analysts said a rate cut was largely priced in as European shares rose nearly 4 percent last week, and any disappointment could spark a sharp sell-off. "A rate cut of 25 basis points is priced in, so it is unlikely to produce a strong positive reaction in the market. There is quite a bit of scope for disappointment if nothing is done," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets in Brussels, said. "A scenario in which we could see a positive reaction is that a cut is delivered and (ECB President) Mario Draghi keeps the door open for more cuts and exceptional policies like quantitative easing." Central banks have been working hard to help the economy, but the market expects more bold steps. On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it will continue buying $85 billion in bonds each month to keep interest rates low and spur growth, adding it would step up purchases if needed to protect the economy. At 0643 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent lower. The earnings season will continue to inject volatility into the market. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, half of the STOXX Europe 600 companies that have announced results so far have missed analysts' forecasts. The index, which has seen results from 46 percent of its companies so far, lags the United States, where 64 percent of S&P 500 constituents have reported, with only 26 percent missing predictions. German industrial bellwether Siemens toned down its full-year outlook on Thursday as weak demand in the industrial sector and project charges weighed on its quarterly profit. German fashion house Hugo Boss reported a bigger than expected decline in first-quarter sales. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 647 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,582.70 -0.93 % -14.87 NIKKEI 13,694.04 -0.76 % -105.31 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 552.10 -0.07 % -0.36 EUR/USD 1.3156 -0.16 % -0.0021 USD/JPY 97.29 -0.09 % -0.0900 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.636 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.199 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,454.71 -0.14 % -$2.03 US CRUDE $90.79 -0.26 % -0.24 * Asian shares fall on fears for health of world economy * Nikkei heads for 4th day of losses on global growth worries * Wall St drops on data, earnings; Facebook up late * Euro eases ahead of ECB, off 2-month high vs dlr * Shanghai copper tumbles near 5 pct on growth concerns * Gold holds near 1-week low, ETFs outflows persist * Brent holds near $100, shaky economic outlook caps gains * TREASURIES-Yields near four-month lows COMPANY NEWS SIEMENS German industrial bellwether Siemens took a more pessimistic stance on the rest of the year as industry demand remained weak and project charges weighed on quarterly profits. ROLLS ROYCE Rolls-Royce said it was on track to report good growth in underlying profit in 2013, after a strong first quarter from its civil aerospace unit. BMW Germany's BMW said first-quarter underlying group profit fell less than expected to 2 billion euros ($2.64 billion), as costly discounts in core European markets and weakening Chinese deliveries weighed on results. SANOFI The pharmaceutical maker reported lower-than-expected first-quarter earnings on Thursday as the effects of last year's patent losses damped growth from diabetes drugs, vaccines and rare disease unit Genzyme. CAPGEMINI The information technology services group posted sales down 1.7 percent to 2.499 billion euros ($3.3 billion) on a comparable basis hit in part by weakness in its largest market, France. INFINEON German chipmaker Infineon on Thursday reported a better-than-expected second-quarter operating profit on improvement at its automotive unit, which accounts for about half of its revenues. ING GROEP NV's The Dutch financial services group's U.S. unit raised $1.3 billion in its initial public offering on Wednesday, less than expected, though the offering ranked as the second largest U.S. float of the year. FRANCE TELECOM France's industry minister said he had blocked Yahoo Inc's plan to buy a majority stake in online video website Dailymotion because the U.S. group wanted to "devour" its smaller competitor. Dailymotion is owned by France Telecom. CREDIT AGRICOLE The French bank cleared the final hurdle to exit the British gas market when energy regulator Ofgem on Wednesday approved the bank's request to cancel its UK gas trading licence. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL Europe's top oil company said on Thursday that its chief executive since 2009, Peter Voser, would retire next year as it reported first quarter results that beat expectations. BSKYB Britain's BSkyB said it would create 550 new jobs to meet the strong demand for its new products, as it reported third quarter results showing sales and profit racing ahead. EDF The French electric utility said on Tuesday cost-cuts and higher nuclear production should boost second-half profits after cold weather helped to produce a 4.7 percent increase in the company's first quarter sales on a like-for-like basis. SWISS RE Swiss Re said first quarter profits rose 21 percent rise, driven by a 9 percent rise in premium and fee income, low catastrophe losses and the expiry of a quota share agreement with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. For related nws, click on SCHRODERS British fund manager Schroders attracted 5.6 billion pounds ($8.7 billion) of net new money in the first quarter, buoyed by strong retail demand for equities that it warned was unlikely to continue. METRO AG German retailer Metro AG said trading remained tough, especially in western Europe, but managed to eke out a first-quarter profit thanks to improved business at its consumer electronic and supermarkets in Germany. CARREFOUR Europe's largest retailer said on Tuesday it was staying in Turkey but selling a 12 percent stake in local venture CarrefourSA to joint venture partner Sabanci Holding for 60 million euros ($79 million). VIVENDI The media-to-telecom conglomerate said on Tuesday that it would consider a public listing of its French telecom operator SFR as part of its plan to reduce exposure to the capital-intensive unit in favor of its media businesses. STATOIL Oil firm Statoil reported first-quarter results below expectations with production problems at major gas fields Troll and Snoehvit off Norway and oil and gas field Peregrino off Brazil. For more on the company, click on DSM The Dutch food and chemicals group reported first-quarter results in line with expectations on Thursday and said it was on track to meet its full-year profit target. EDF The French electric utility said on Tuesday cost-cuts and higher nuclear production should boost second-half profits after cold weather helped to produce a 4.7 percent increase in the company's first quarter sales on a like-for-like basis. BT UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched a probe into whether BT Group is abusing its dominant position when pricing its superfast broadband, following a complaint by smaller rival TalkTalk Telecom Group. RANDGOLD RESOURCES Africa-focused Randgold Resources posted a more than 20 percent drop in profit on Thursday, hit in the first three months by a reduced contribution from its Loulo-Gounkoto mine in Mali, lower prices and ounces of gold left unsold. GLENCORE XSTRATA After years of on-off talks, months of brinkmanship and often bitter negotiations, Glencore will complete the $30 billion acquisition of Xstrata on Thursday, the mining industry's biggest takeover yet. Shares in the newly merged company begin trading on Friday.