TORONTO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to rise at Thursday's open on the back of higher oil prices and favorable U.S. data, but softer copper prices could limit gains.
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a higher open.
* U.S. stock index futures extended gains after and data showed U.S. jobless claims fell last week, and the trade gap narrowed more than expected in July. [.N]
* European shares gained, with a key index holding above a resistance level, as banks gained after positive comments on the economy by a European Central Bank policy-maker helped bolster investors' confidence. [.EU]
* Markets in Asia edged up while China stocks bucked the trend after a sudden drop in the commodities futures prompted skittish investors to take money off the table.
*There is still a 40 percent chance of a double-dip recession in the United States, and the slide back into recession could come within 12 months, U.S. economist Nouriel Roubini said on Wednesday. [ID:nN08143760]
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.17 percent in early trade.
* Oil rose above $75 a barrel, drawing strength from an initial report of falling U.S. inventories. [O/R]
* Gold edged up for a fourth day, having backed off Wednesday's peaks as equity markets and the euro rose, encouraging investors to delve back into riskier assets. [GOL/]
* Copper dropped to a one-week low following a sharp fall in Chinese commodity markets but rising equity markets and dollar weakness helped recover some of its earlier losses. [MET/L]
* Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO): Canada's No.1 oil production and refining company will begin maintenance work on Thursday on one of its upgrader plants in Alberta's oil sands that is expected to cause the facility operate at reduced rates for six weeks. [ID:nN08139818]
* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO): Kazakh mining group ENRC rejected accusations by rival miner First Quantum about ENRC's purchase of a disputed copper project in Congo and said it would vigorously defend any legal action. ID:nLDE688055]
* Canadian tour operator Transat A.T. Inc TRZb.TO on Thursday reported higher-than-expected quarterly results, helped by an increase in travelers and higher prices in the transatlantic market. [ID:nSGE6880H2]
* Descartes Systems Group Inc. (DSG.TO): The logistics and management software and services provider on Thursday posted higher second-quarter results, helped by increased revenue at its key services segment. [ID: nSGE6880FP]
* Evertz Technologies Ltd (ET.TO): The Canadian broadcast equipment company on Wednesday posted a first-quarter profit that beat market estimates on lower expenses. [ID:nSGE6870KA]
* Extract Resources Ltd EXT.TO: Australian uranium explorer said high grade uranium assay results have been returned from newly discovered Zone 5 at Rossing South, one of the world's largest uranium deposits. [ID:nLDE68807Y]
* Major Drilling Group International Inc (MDI.TO): The mine drilling company on Wednesday posted better-than expected first-quarter revenue, highest in seven consecutive quarters helped by improved rig utilization rates.[ID:nSGE6870JW]
* Methanex Corp MX.TO: The world's largest methanol producer said on Wednesday it plans to restart its 470,000-tonnes-per-year methanol plant in Alberta in April 2011, as company looks to benefit from lower natural gas prices. Restarting the plant, which has been idle since 2001, would cost of about US$40 million.[ID: nSGE6870KR]
* Miranda Technologies Inc MT.TO: The company said on Thursday it acquired UK-based OmniBus Systems for $48.7 million from private equity firm Palamon Capital Partners, to expand into the television and Internet broadcasting software segment. With the acquisition, Miranda expects to gain additional expertise to sell, deploy and support enterprise grade software systems.[nSGE6880G6]
* Penn West Energy Trust PWT_u.TO: The company said on Wednesday it was reducing its monthly distribution to unitholders to $0.09 per unit from $0.15. The new distribution level represents a cash-on-cash yield of about 6 percent, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.[ID:nN08146449]
* Xceed Mortgage Corp. (XMC.TO): The insured mortgages provider reported a third-quarter profit, helped by an improvement in market pricing for mortgages and higher securitization income. [ID:nSGE6880GI]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Anatolia Minerals Development ANO.TO rating cut to market perform from outperform at Raymond James
* Allied Nevada Gold ANV.TO cut to hold from buy at Desjardins
* Transcontinental TCLa.TO price target raised C$16 from C$15, rating market perform
* Evertz Technologies Ltd (ET.TO) price target raised to C$18 from C$15.50; rating outperform at Raymond James ($1= $1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney and Bangalore newsroom)