Jan 14 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open slightly higher on Monday, with investors cautious ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech later in the day that might signal prospects for monetary easing.
* Harry Winston Diamond Corp is selling its high-end watches-to-necklaces division to Swatch, in a $750 million cash deal that expands the Swiss watchmaker’s luxury offering and lets the Canadian group concentrate on its diamond mines.
* Alamos Gold said it will buy Aurizon Mines Ltd for about C$780 million in cash and stock to get access to Aurizon’s only operating gold mine, Casa Berardi, in northern Quebec.
* The U.S. economy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2013, improving to 3.5 percent growth in 2014, top Fed official Charles Evans said.
* SKF, the world’s biggest bearings maker, is cutting 2,500 jobs to cope with weaker demand, underscoring the bleak outlook for manufacturers as Europe drives through austerity measures to reduce its debts.
* British Prime Minister David Cameron played down the prospect of a near-term referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, ahead of a long-awaited speech on the issue he is expected to deliver next week.
* Canada stock futures traded higher
* U.S. stock futures , , were mixed in the range of -0.61 percent and 0.02 percent
* European shares, were mixed
* Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index : 298.3015; rose 0.4 percent
* Gold futures : $1,665.4; rose 0.33 percent
* US crude : $93.91; rose 0.37 percent
* Brent crude : $111.15; rose 0.46 percent
* LME 3-month copper : $8,068; rose 0.29 percent
* Encana Corp. : The natural-gas producer said on Friday CEO Randy Eresman will retire immediately, with board member Clayton Woitas taking over his duties until a permanent replacement is found.
* First Quantum Minerals : The company’s hostile C$5.1 billion takeover bid for Inmet Mining Corp took a tense turn on Saturday, as the base metal miner delivered a letter to its rival suggesting Inmet may be trying to scuttle the bid, which is now in the hands of shareholders.
Separately, the mining firm plans to invest $275 million in a new nickel mine in Zambia, a company official said on Saturday.
* Nevsun Resources Ltd. : A human rights group will issue a report next week detailing workers’ claims of abuse at the Bisha mine owned by the gold miner in the African country of Eritrea.
* Sun Life Financial Inc. : A consortium of Sun Life Financial Inc and Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd has agreed to buy British insurer Aviva plc’s Malaysian insurance joint venture with CIMB Group for about 1.7 billion ringgit, sources said on Sunday, helping the company to expand its Asian foot print.
* Uranium One Inc. : The uranium producer said it has entered into an agreement with Russia’s JSC Atomredmetzoloto and its affiliate, Effective Energy N.V., collectively termed ARMZ, to go private in a deal that values the company at C$2.74 billion.
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.
* Bombardier Inc. : CIBC raises target price to C$5.25 from C$4.75 citing positive catalysts in the year including continued recovery in business jets, new orders and more rail infrastructure spending.
* Canadian Utilities Ltd. : Canaccord Genuity cuts to hold from buy due to the recent strength of the company’s share price.
* Canadian Insurance: CIBC raises Manulife Financial Corp target price to C$15 from C$13 and Sun Life Financial Inc to C$28 from C$26, expects headline numbers for the fourth quarter to be closer to core numbers than they have been in some time.
* Westshore Terminals Investment Corp. : CIBC raises to sector performer, says the company is being viewed more as an infrastructure investment given its strategic location for exports.
* No major Canadian economic data scheduled for release
* No major U.S. events and data scheduled for release