TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index could open higher on Wednesday, after touching a five-year low in the previous session, supported by firmness in the price of oil and base metals.
The Toronto market may follow along with world stocks, which fought back from multi-year lows as investors hunted for bargains after three days of steep losses. [nL4107311] U.S. stock index futures pointed higher. [ID:nL4875544]
On Tuesday, nagging credit quality worries pulled shares of Canadian banks lower, which helped to push the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE down 55.89 points, or 0.73 percent, at 7,631.62.
Here is some news that could affect the market:
SUN LIFE (SLF.TO)
U.S. Hartford Financial Services Group Inc (HIG.N) is in talks to sell most of its life insurance unit to Canadian Sun Life Financial Inc, Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter. [ID:nL468593]
The financials sector may see action after reports by two of Canada's largest banks -- Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) -- showed the banks pushed through the global financial crisis to report profits on Tuesday, but also disclosed higher provisions for bad loans that point to tougher quarters ahead. [ID:nN03459519]
Laurentian Bank (LB.TO) is due to report quarterly results on Wednesday morning.
MANULIFE FINANCIAL CORP (MFC.TO)
Prudential Plc (PRU.L) and Manulife Financial Corp made preliminary offers for American International Group Inc's (AIG.N) Asian unit, but Prudential's offer fell short of what AIG wants for the business, sources familiar with the matter said. [ID:nPEK342256]
CANFOR CORP (CFP.TO)
Forest products company Canfor Corp said it would cut lumber production at its sawmills in Western Canada due to slumping demand and poor prices for softwood lumber. [ID:nBNG424881]
Fortress Paper Ltd (FTP.TO) reported a higher fourth-quarter net profit on Tuesday, helped by increased capacity at its mills and a shift towards higher margin products particularly more non-woven wallpaper base in Dresden Mill, Germany. [ID:nBNG382342]
U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 jumped more than $1 towards $43 per barrel on Wednesday, supported by better economic news from China and expectations by some traders that OPEC oil producers may further cut output. [ID:nSP408417]
Gold was little changed in Europe on Wednesday as traders stuck to the sidelines ahead of a rate-setting announcement from the European Central Bank and key U.S. jobs data later in the week. [ID:nL4187579] Base metals were mostly higher. [ID:nL4293900]
VALE INCO (VALE5.SA)
Vale Inco, the nickel mining and processing division of Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (VALE5.SA), said on Tuesday it will eliminate about 900 full-time jobs in the face of slumping prices, with close to half of the cuts at its Canadian operations. [ID:nN03452903]
Alberta, Canada's top energy-producing province, offered its battered industry up to C$1.5 billion in royalty breaks and credits on Tuesday to boost drilling and protect jobs as oil and gas prices sag. [ID:nN03372395]
Genuity raises Bank of Montreal to hold from sell and its price target to C$30 from C$27, while UBS cut its price target of Bank of Nova Scotia to C$40 from C$42. For more research, please see: [ID:nBNG475688] ($1=$1.29 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)