March 14, 2012 / 12:57 PM / in 6 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open firmer on economic optimism

March 14 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was set for a higher open on Wednesday, tracking global markets, after benign comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve and positive stress test results from top U.S. banks boosted optimism.

Canadian energy stocks were expected to struggle, as Brent crude oil dipped slightly on expectations for a build in U.S. crude inventories and a stronger dollar.

FACTORS TO WATCH

* Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open.

* U.S. stock index futures edged higher, putting the benchmark index on track for its sixth straight advance after comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve on the economy and banking sector helped boost optimism.

* European shares rose early to reach fresh 33-week highs, led by financials as the U.S. Federal Reserve improved its economic outlook for the world’s largest economy and said most U.S. banks had passed its stress tests.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.47 percent in early trade.

* Gold fell for a third day as investors switched to equities after the U.S. Federal Reserve vowed to keep interest rates low until 2014, while platinum prices held at premiums to bullion on lingering worries about supply disruption.

* Copper eased falling from a one-week high hit in the previous session as uncertainty about the outlook for demand from top consumer China weighed on sentiment, with a strong dollar adding pressure to base metals prices.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. : The independent oil producer said its Horizon oil sands plant in northeastern Alberta was back in operation since Tuesday, after an unplanned maintenance hit activities at the site for a month.

* Bank of Montreal : The bank said its exchange traded funds business surpassed C$5 billion in assets under management (AUM).

* Timmins Gold Corp. : The miner raised its estimate of total measured and indicated resources at its San Francisco gold mine in Mexico by about 9 percent.

* GMP Capital Inc’s : The company’s fourth-quarter profit fell, hurt primarily due to weaker performance in its capital markets segment.

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

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

* Alimentation Couche Tard : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$36.50 from C$34

* Alliance Grain : National Bank Financial cuts price target to C$20 from C$21

* H&R REIT : Canaccord Genuity raises price target to C$26.75 from C$25, rating buy

* NovaGold Resources : RBC cuts price target to C$10 from C$11, rating sector perform

* Pure Industrial : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$5.25 from C$5, rating buy

* Suncor Energy : Canaccord Genuity cuts target price by C$2 to C$44, rating buy

* Transcontinental : Canaccord Genuity cuts price target to C$16.10 from C$18.50; National Bank Financial cuts target to C$15.50 from C$17

* TransGlobe Apartment : Canaccord Genuity raises target to C$12.70 from C$12.30

* 5n Plus : National Bank Financial raises to outperform from sector perform

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