March 9, 2012 / 1:28 PM / 5 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX may open up after Greek deal, eye on U.S. jobs

March 9 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open higher on Friday, after 85 percent of Greece's private creditors accepted its bond swap offer, but investors were also expected to take their cue from U.S. jobs data.

The consensus estimate is for the U.S. labor department to announce 210,000 non-farm jobs created during the month.

Canada unexpectedly failed to create any new jobs in February, continuing a trend of stalled employment despite healthy economic growth rates and contrasting with renewed strength in the United States.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open.

* The Canadian dollar weakened to a session low against its U.S. counterpart after data showed domestic employment in February remained virtually unchanged with the loss of 2,800 jobs.

* U.S. stock index futures edged lower after their strongest two-day gain in nearly three months and ahead of a report likely to show U.S. employment grew solidly for a third straight month.

* European stocks traded in a narrow range after Greece's successful bond swap, with investors turning their attention to U.S. job data.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.04 percent in early trade.

* Brent crude dipped slightly, holding around $125, having risen a more than $3 over the past two sessions ahead of the Greek bond swap deal, and as investors' focus has shifted to the U.S. jobs report later in the day.

* Gold steadied ahead of U.S. employment data that could cement expectations for the likely course of Federal Reserve monetary policy, shrugging off the negative impact of a weaker euro after Greece completed a crucial bond swap.

* Copper rose, spurred by expectation China could ease monetary policy further and boost demand for industrial metals after inflation slowed to a 20-month low, while a successful bond swap in Greece added to improving sentiment in markets.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Great Canadian Gaming Corp : The casino and racetrack operator posted a fourth-quarter profit in the absence of any big charge like last year, but sales at the company fell marginally on flat revenue at some of its main businesses.

* Canadian Energy Services & Technology Corp. : The company's quarterly profit rose more than 50 percent as the company benefited from its customers drilling more complex, deeper and longer horizontal wells in unconventional fields.

* Neo Material Technologies : Rare earth miner Molycorp is set to buy the company in a C$1.3 billion cash and share deal that will give Molycorp access to Neo's rare earth processing capabilities and patents.

Separately, Neo Material posted a 153 percent jump in fourth-quarter net profit on Thursday, helped by growth in its performance materials segment.

* Research In Motion : The BlackBerry maker said on Thursday it has acquired Paratek Microwave Inc., a company whose adaptive radio-frequency technology improves mobile-handset call quality and battery life.

* Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. : Spanish engineer Gamesa said it had reached a deal to sell four wind parks in the United States with a total generating capacity of 480 megawatts to Algonquin for about $888 million.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Artis : RBC raises price target to C$16 from C$15, rating sector perform

* Canadian Western Bank : NBF raises price target to C$32 from C$31

* Celtic Exploration : NBF cuts price target to C$24 from C$28.50, rating outperform; Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$40 from C$42

* Cervus Equipment : NBF raises price target to C$19 from C$18.50, rating outperform

* CIBC : KBW raises target price by C$3 to C$81, rating market perform

* CML Healthcare : NBF raises price target to C$11.50 from C$11

* Dorel : NBF raises price target to C$27.50 from C$26, rating sector perform

* HudBay Minerals : NBF raises to outperform from sector perform; Canaccord Genuity cuts target price to C$14 from C$14.50

* Trinidad Drilling : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$9.50 from C$10.75

* Western Energy Services Corp. : RBC raises price target to $15 from $13

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