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Dec 17 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index is set to open flat as markets shifted focus back to euro-zone debt after Moody's downgraded Ireland five notches.
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> point to a lower open.
* S&P 500 index futures dipped after Ireland's credit rating was slashed. [.N]
* European shares fell, with banks lower on concerns over the euro zone debt crisis after the Ireland downgrade. AstraZeneca slipped on a setback for a key drug. [.EU]
* Asian stocks clawed higher. But the Nikkei was flat after gaining around 0.9 percent on the week, as losses in trading companies offset gains in banks and real estate sector.
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, fell 0.21 percent in early trade.
* Oil hovered around $88, supported by a weaker dollar and unseasonably cold northern hemisphere weather. [O/R]
* Gold prices firmed, supported by a retreat in the dollar versus the euro, and by European debt concerns. [GOL/]
* Copper prices climbed as the market focused on strong fundamentals and expectations of strong demand from top consumer China. [MET/L]
* BMO Financial Group (BMO.TO): The bank said on Friday that it would buy Marshall & Ilsley Corp for about $4.1 billion in a stock-for-stock deal, strengthening its position in the U.S. Midwest. BMO said that under the terms of the agreement reached with Marshall & Ilsley, each outstanding share of M&I would be exchanged for 0.1257 of a share of BMO upon closing. [ID:nN17295150]
* Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO): Suncor signed a C$1.75 billion oil sands deal with Total E&P Canada Ltd, a unit of France's Total, to develop the Fort Hills and Joslyn oil sands mining projects. [ID:nLDE6BG0EZ] Suncor unveiled a 10-year growth strategy that will boost output to more than 1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020. Capex will be C$6.7 billion for 2011. [ID:nSGE6BG034]
* PetroBakken Energy Ltd. PBN.TO: The company expects its Alberta play, Cardium, which was hit by wet weather conditions, to resume normal operations by the end of the first quarter, with 10-12 wells ready for production.[ID:nSGE6BG04W]
* Patheon Inc. PTI.TO: The contract drug maker posted a fourth-quarter loss, hurt by lower production at its Canadian and Puerto Rican operations and higher costs. [ID:nSGE6BG061]
* Research In Motion RIM.TO: The BlackBerry maker's Torch, a touchscreen challenger to Apple's iPhone, lifted third-quarter profit above analyst expectations and RIM forecast strong results for the current holiday-season quarter. [ID:nN16269441]
* Paladin Energy Ltd. (PDN.TO): agreed to buy the uranium assets of Canada's Fronteer Gold Inc (FRG) in an all-stock deal valued at about C$260 million. [ID:nSGE6BG04Z]
* Enerplus Resources Fund ERF_u.TO: The oil and gas trust expects production to grow 10 percent to 15 percent over the next two years. [ID:nSGE6BG051]
* Onex Corp. OCX.TO: The private-equity firm is talking to rival buyout firms to sell Husky Injection Molding Systems, in a deal that may fetch about $2 billion, Bloomberg said, [ID:nSGE6BG02N]
* Newalta Inc. NAL.TO: The waste management company raised its annual capital budget for 2011 by 15 percent to C$100 million and said a major portion of the sum will be spent on its facilities and onsite segments. [ID:nSGE6BF0BV]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* RIM price target raised to $61 from $54 by UBS
* Open Range Energy ONR.TO price target raised to C$2.40 from C$1.70; rating buy at Canaccord Genuity
($1= $1.01 Canadian)
Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore Newsroom