January 6, 2011 / 1:53 PM / 7 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set open slightly higher; commodities soft

Jan 6 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open slightly higher on Thursday, helped by growing optimism about the outlook for the North American economy, even as some U.S. data came in weaker-than-expected and commodities traded little changed.

FACTORS TO WATCH

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

* U.S. stock index futures trimmed gains slightly on Thursday after new jobless claims rose more than expected last week, even as a drop in the four-week average indicated an improving labor market. [.N]

* European shares were higher late morning, on growing confidence the economic recovery was on a stronger footing after U.S. employment figures pointed to a pick-up in the labor market. [.EU]

* Japanese stocks rallied as investors snapped up shares of big exporters after the dollar hit two-week highs against the yen, but markets elsewhere in Asia were more subdued ahead of the influential U.S. non-farm payrolls report.

COMMODITY PRICE MOVES

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.02 percent in early trade.

* Oil hovered around $90 as the dollar strengthened slightly but Wednesday's positive U.S. private sector payroll data continued to provide support, raising expectations for a sustained recovery. [O/R]

* Gold prices slipped in Europe for a fourth successive session as the dollar firmed versus the euro and risk appetite improved after a raft of better-than-expected U.S. data. [GOL/]

* Copper rose as strong U.S. economic data boosted sentiment, but gains were capped by some talk of tighter monetary policy in the United States, the world's largest economy. [MET/L]

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

* Research in Motion RIM.TO: Corporate interest in the BlackBerry maker's new tablet was "massive," the company said, as it announced plans to launch a 4G version of the device this summer with Sprint Nextel.[ID:nL3E7C609Q]

* Encana Corp. (ECA.TO): North America's second-largest natural gas producer will spend less money on operations in 2011 as prices for the fuel remain weak, the head of the company's U.S. unit said on Wednesday. [ID: nN05292221]

* Canada Bread CBY.TO: The baker said it would close its frozen bakery facility in Laval, Quebec and take a related pretax charge of about C$5.8 million. [ID:nSGE7040BZ]

* Farallon Mining Ltd FAN.TO: The company said about 93.7 percent of its common shares were tendered in to Nyrstar NV, following a offer by the world's biggest zinc producer to buy the Canadian company. Nyrstar also intends to buy the remaining Farallon shares using certain compulsory acquisition provisions, said Farallon, which has a zinc-rich mine in Guerrero state, Mexico. [ID:nN05176258]

ANALYST RECOMMENDATIONS

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]

* Cineplex Inc (CGX.TO) cut to market perform from outperform at Raymond James

* First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) price target raised to C$120 from C$101; rating buy at Nomura

* Innergex Renewable Energy (INE.TO) cut to sector perform from outperform at RBC

* Petrominerales PMG.TO price target raised to C$45 from C$39; rating outperform at RBC

* Sprott (SII.TO) price target raised to C$8.50 from C$7.50; keeps hold rating at TD Newcrest

$1= $1.01 Canadian Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore Newsroom; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson

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