TORONTO, April 16 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index could get off to a mixed start on Thursday given a combination of higher oil prices, better-than-expected earnings from a big U.S. bank and the bankruptcy of a major U.S. mall owner.
Higher oil prices stand to benefit the energy sector and help that influential group snap a two-session skid.
And a rally in overseas stocks on news that U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) reported better-than-expected earnings could also carry over into the North American session and offer a boost to the influential financials index. [ID:nN16542451]
But news that General Growth Properties Inc (GGP.N), the second largest U.S. mall owner, filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, may rattle investor sentiment and crimp any gains or keep the index pinned lower. [ID:nLG285644]
Investors will also key in on the February manufacturing sales report for Canada due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). That will be followed by the more key domestic consumer price index data for March on Friday.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE eked out a gain of 14.49 points to close at 9,246.11 on Wednesday as financials made a late push and offset weak resource issues.
Here is some of the news that may affect the index:
Oil edged towards $50 a barrel on Thursday, but gains were limited as mixed data from China and the United States reminded investors that any signs of economic recovery were still only tentative. [ID:nSP405814]
Gold prices were steady on Thursday as traders awaited direction from the equity and currency markets, with sluggish investment and physical demand providing little support. [ID:nTLG392725]
Petro-Canada PCA.TO has laid off nearly a third of the workers in its oil sands division as its major project, the C$21-billion-plus ($17-billion-plus) Fort Hills venture, remains stalled in the oil industry downturn, the company said on Wednesday. [ID:nN15509484]
Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) said on Thursday it was still "100 percent committed" to buying hostile takeover target CF Industries Inc (CF.N) and dismissed the U.S. fertilizer producer's claims that it had not attempted to engage with the company over its offer. [ID:nBNG22676]
Insolvent commercial printer Quebecor World Inc IQW.TO said on Wednesday its shares will be suspended from the Toronto Stock Exchange as of Friday. [ID:nN15526173]
Gold and copper miner Northgate Minerals Corp NGX.TO said it exceeded its quarterly gold production forecast, helped by higher-than-expected ore grades and metal recoveries at its Australia-based Kemess mine. [ID:nBNG390735]
CANADIAN RESEARCH: OIL & GAS COMPANIES
Following is a list of research on Canadian-listed companies. For more, please see [RCH/CA].
* Genuity raises Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) price target 8.5 percent to C$64 from C$59
* Genuity cuts EnCana Corp (ECA.N) price target 1.8 percent to $55 from $56
* Genuity raises Nexen NXY.TO price target 9.5 percent to C$23 from C$21
* Genuity raises Canadian Oil Sands Trust COS_u.TO price target 7.7 percent to C$28 from C$26
$1=$1.21 Canadian Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio