February 14, 2012 / 1:48 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open lower, weighed by soft data, Moody's

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks looked set to open lower on Tuesday, hurt by soft U.S. retail sales data, as well as a Moody's debt downgrade of six euro zone countries and threat to cut the ratings of others.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a lower open.

* U.S. stock index futures fell on Tuesday after data showed retail sales rose less than expected in January from December as consumers cut back on car purchases and shopped less online.

* European stocks turned positive around midday after data showed German analyst and investor sentiment rising to a level not seen since last April, eclipsing Moody's downgrade of six euro zone countries. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ To receive an early e-mail of Reuters Morning News Call - Canada -- a preview of market moving news -- Thomson Reuters subscribers can register at ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.05 percent in early trade.

* Oil prices held steady as better-than-expected German economic data and a successful Italian bond auction eased fears about European demand, while worries about supply disruption due to Middle East tensions continued to underpin the market.

* Gold steadied after stronger-than-expected German economic data helped the euro reverse early losses, but the single currency remained under pressure after rating agency Moody's said it may cut its triple-A ratings of France, Britain and Austria.

* Copper was steady as the euro rose against the dollar after data showed Germany, Europe's largest economy, was holding up despite the debt crisis, but signs of scant buying from top consumer China limited gains.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust : The company posted a 20 percent rise in quarterly funds from operation, helped by an increase in net operating income.

* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. : The independent oil explorer's Horizon oil sands plant will not return to full output until mid- to late March, as repairs to a processing unit at the northern Alberta site will take longer than first expected, the company said on Monday.

* Migao Corp. : The specialty fertilizer maker said its fiscal third-quarter profit shrank, as rising raw material costs more than offset the gains from increased sales.

* Resolute Forest Products : The company formerly known as AbitibiBowater said it has applied for an order to block Mercer International Inc's offer to buy smaller peer Fibrek Inc for about C$170 million.

* Bonterra Energy Corp. : The oil and gas company's fourth-quarter production rose 10 percent, and said it continues to see strong drilling results at its Cardium acreage.

* Cequence Energy : The oil and gas company slashed its capital budget and production forecast for the first half of 2012, citing low natural gas prices.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters.

* Avion Gold : National Bank Financial cuts price target to C$2.95 from C$3.05

* Canadian Natural Resources : Canaccord Genuity removes from focus list, rating buy

* Manitoba Telecom : CIBC raises price target to C$35 from C$33

* MBAC Fertilizer : Canaccord Genuity cuts target price to C$4.70 from C$4.75

* Orbit Garant Drilling : NBF cuts price target to C$7 from C$7.80

* Zodiac Exploration : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$0.50 from C$1

$1= $0.99 Canadian Reporting by Kishan Nair; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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