April 21 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index looked set to open higher on Thursday as investors returned to riskier assets on strong North American corporate earnings and a broader investor push into commodities.
* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a higher open.
* The U.S. dollar hit a 3 1/2-year low against the Canadian dollar as investors dumped the U.S. currency in favour of those with a higher yield. [CAD/]
* U.S. stock index futures rose, putting the S&P 500 on track for its first weekly gain in the last three, as strong corporate earnings and outlooks generated optimism about the economic recovery. [.N]
* European shares pushed ahead with the support of forecast-beating earnings from U.S. bellwether General Electric (GE.N) and Finnish phone maker Nokia NOK1V.HE, with technicals indicating an upward trend. [.EU]
* Asian stocks recovered sharply from a stumble earlier in the week and rose to their highest level since January 2008.
* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, rose 0.31 percent in early trade.
* Brent crude oil rose above $124 a barrel on a sharply weaker dollar and as a draw in U.S. crude and fuel stocks pointed to tighter supplies in the world's top oil user. [O/R]
* Gold prices hit record highs for a fifth session, and silver rallied to its strongest since 1980 as the dollar slid to a three-year low against a basket of major currencies and oil prices rose. [GOL/]
* Copper jumped to its highest in more than a week as investors focused on supply tightness after miner Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) AGLJ.J showed a sharp production fall and the dollar weakened. [MET/L]
* Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO): African Barrick Gold, a unit of the world's largest gold producer said its net profit declined in the first quarter as lower production and higher costs offset rising gold prices. [ID:nLDE73J0MI]
* Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO): The railroad company posted a 67 percent drop in quarterly profit, as harsh winter weather hampered train operations. [ID:nL3E7FL2GQ]
* Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (VRX.TO): The drugmaker set a deadline for its unsolicited $5.7 billion bid for Cephalon Inc, saying it will move on if more than 50 percent of Cephalon shareholders do not consent to the offer by May 12. [ID:nN21239614]
* Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO): The company said on Wednesday its controlling shareholders and namesake owners raised their stake in the cable operator. [ID:nN20178337]
* Equinox Minerals EQN.TO: The company postponed a vote on its bid for fellow copper miner Lundin Mining (LUN.TO) to May 6 as it awaited a formal $6.6 billion offer from China's Minmetals Resources. [ID:nS9E7EV01J]
* Celestica Inc. (CLS.TO): The contract electronics maker's quarterly results topped estimates, helped by new programs launched last year, and the company said it would buy certain operations of diversified manufacturer Brooks Automation. [ID:nL3E7FL26Q]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Com Dev International Ltd CDV.TO rating raised to sector performer from sector underperformer at CIBC
* Pengrowth Energy Corp (PGF.TO) price target raised to C$13 from C$12.50; rating hold at Citigroup
$1= $0.95 Canadian Reporting by Shrutee Sarkar; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson