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TORONTO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was seen advancing early on Thursday with Canadian tech shares in the spotlight after results from Cognos Inc CSN.TO and ahead of results from Research In Motion RIM.TO.
Cognos could set the tone after the software provider reported a near doubling of profit. For details, see: [nN20156607]
In the United States, business software maker Oracle Corp ORCL.O reported a better-than-expected quarterly revenue late on Wednesday, lifting U.S. stock futures. For details, see: [nN19600936]
U.S. stock markets are a key bellwether for the Toronto index, and the Oracle results were expected to lift TSX tech stocks, which have been flat in the last two sessions.
"The technology sector has been a very important sector for all major North American indices, and we really needed a good number out of Oracle to see further strength in large-cap tech, which is well off its highs," said Neil Andrew, a portfolio manager at Leeward Hedge Funds.
He noted that RIM, which is slated to report after markets close on Thursday, "has initially surprised everyone to the upside, analysts included."
RIM, the maker of the popular BlackBerry, has pulled back recently, with its stock down more than 16 percent in the last three weeks.
Elsewhere in corporate news, Akela Pharma Inc AKL.TO ditched a plan for a U.S. public offering, citing unfavorable conditions for micro-cap companies. For details, see: [nN20245740]
Forbes Medi-Tech Inc FMI.TOFMTI.O could also attract attention after it said early on Thursday it seeks to convert to a new company. For details, see: [nWNA1440]
Bullish crude oil prices drove the TSX to a small gain in the previous session, but the key commodity dipped early on Thursday, which could hit TSX energy stocks. Natural gas futures were mostly flat.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE is down 2.2 percent so far in December, a month in which it has climbed the last 10 years.
The index starts the day at 13,389.82 after rising 31.75 points, or 0.2 percent, in the previous session.
$1=$1 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Scott Anderson