March 8, 2012 / 1:43 PM / 6 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX to open up as commodities rally, Greece eyed

March 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index looked set to open higher on Thursday, as commodity prices rallied on optimism Greece would pull off a critical bond swap deal.

Global share markets staged big gains as investors took heart from signs that Greece would complete the much needed private debt swap to avoid a chaotic default.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open.

* Bank of Canada rate decision: Sluggish domestic growth and uncertainty about the global economy will likely keep the Bank of Canada from raising rates until the second quarter of 2013, according to a Reuters survey.

* U.S. stock index futures jumped after a Greek official reported a strong uptake by investors for a debt swap that faces a deadline later in the day.

* European shares gained for a second day, moving further from one-month lows on optimism that Greece would win support from private creditors to avoid a messy default, with charts signaling more gains.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.55 percent in early trade.

* Oil rose, with prices topping $125 a barrel, on hopes that Greece would win enough creditor support to avoid a messy default on its debt and on continuing fears of supply disruptions from Iran.

* Gold rose, led by a climb in the euro on the back of growing confidence in Greece’s ability to complete a bond swap to avoid defaulting on its debt, and by evidence that this week’s decline to six-week lows had lifted investor demand.

* Copper rose more than 1 percent as investor confidence improved on hopes Greece would complete a debt swap and with a weaker dollar also supporting base metals; concerns however lingered over slack demand in top consumer China.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce : The bank’s first-quarter profit rose 9 percent, helped by growth across its segments, and the company said it plans a potential sale of its broker mortgage unit, FirstLine.

* Canadian Western Bank : The company posted a 10 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by strong loan growth.

* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd : The independent oil explorer swung to a fourth-quarter profit as it saw an increase in production.

* Viterra : The grain handler reported a lower quarterly profit partly hurt by weak performance at its processing segment.

* TransGlobe Energy Corp. : The oil and gas company’s quarterly profit rose more than three times, helped by higher production and oil prices, and the company expects 2012 output to rise by up to 65 percent. [ID: nL4E8E83UE]

* Thomson Reuters Corp. : The European Union’s investigation into the codes, the company uses to identify financial securities has reached a critical stage after market testing of the company’s proposed solution proved unsuccessful, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

* NAL Energy Corp : The oil and natural gas producer’s fourth-quarter FFO increased about 12 percent, helped in part by higher oil production from its Saskatchewan operations.

* Talisman Energy : Miner Xstrata expanded its coking coal operations in Canada’s British Columbia on Thursday with the $500 million purchase of assets from the oil explorer.

* Ivanhoe Mines : Ivanhoe Australia, the company, 59 percent owned by billionaire Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines has started producing copper and gold from its Osborne acquisition in Australia, the company said.

* Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. : The company, ratcheting up its defense in a proxy battle with its biggest shareholder, said on Wednesday its “strong” customer relationships are paying off and posted testimonials from satisfied companies.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Allied Properties : Macquarie raises target to C$28 from C$27, rating outperform; National Bank Financial raises target to C$27.50 from C$26.25

* Colabor Group : National Bank Financial cuts to underperform from sector perform

* Canadian Zinc Corp. : Canaccord Genuity starts with a speculative buy rating

* Canyon Services : RBC raises price target to C$19 from C$16; rating outperform; CIBC raises price target to C$18 from C$17

* Churchill Corp. : Canaccord Genuity raises to buy from hold; RBC raises to outperform from sector perform

* Davis + Henderson : National Bank Financial cuts target to C$20.50 from C$21.50; CIBC raises price target to C$21 from C$20.50

* Petrobakken : Barclays raises price target to C$21 from C$19, rating overweight; Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$25.50 from C$24, rating buy

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