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July 23 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index could open slightly higher on Friday as strong U.S. company results lifted investor sentiment, offsetting the impact of softer commodity prices.
Canadian equity futures pointed to a higher open <0#SXF:>, even though the Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, was down slightly in early trade.
Wall Street is also expected to open higher. [.N]
Other supportive news included a report that Canada's annual inflation rate slowed in June from May, helped by moderating energy prices, suggesting the central bank has breathing room to take a gradual approach to future interest rate hikes. [ID:nN23500487]
Europe's banking stress tests will help set the theme for the day's trading, but investors will also look for clues from corporate results.
European shares edged up, extending a rally into a fourth day, after a survey showed German business sentiment posted a record jump in July to its highest level in three years.
Asian markets also rose with commodity-related stocks among the top gainers along with technology and healthcare shares.
Here is some news that could affect stock prices:
Crude drifted lower after hitting a three-month high near $80 on Friday, pressured by uncertainty over the result of bank stress tests in Europe. [O/R]
Copper rallied to a two-month high on fund buying, but unease about the results of European bank stress tests due later on Friday and simmering demand worries are expected to check gains. [MET/L]
Gold rose towards $1,200 an ounce in Europe on Friday, supported by dollar weakness, as a retreat in risk aversion led to a return of the two assets' usual inverse relationship. [GOL/]
Canadian stocks to watch include:
BOMBARDIER INC (BBDb.TO)
Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) won an order for 40 metro cars worth about $55 million from India's Delhi Metro Rail Corp Ltd, the world's No. 1 train manufacturer said on Friday. [ID:nN23263509]
Contract electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc (CLS.TO) (CLS.N) on Friday reported a quarterly net loss, hurt by higher restructuring charges, but said recent contract wins would boost revenue growth in the fourth quarter. [ID:nSGE66M0EC]
Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) (CNI.N) reported a 38 percent jump in quarterly profit on Thursday and raised its full-year forecast based on its strong results over the last six months and expectation that the economy will continue to recover. [ID:nN22122933]
WEST FRASER TIMBER CO LTD (WFT.TO)
West Fraser Timber Co Ltd (WFT.TO) swung back to a quarterly profit on Thursday, but cautioned the higher lumber and pulp prices it had enjoyed would be weaker for the rest of the year. [ID:nN22122897]
KINROSS GOLD CORP (K.TO)
Canada's Kinross Gold Corp (K.TO) signed a new agreement with gold miner B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO) to buy the latter's right to an interest in Kupol east and west exploration licence areas in Russia. [ID:nSGE66M0ET]
Inmet Mining Corp IMN.TO said on Thursday quarterly copper cathode production at its Las Cruces project in Spain missed its own estimates, hurt by equipment failures, and lowered its 2010 production outlook from the mine. [ID:nSGE66L0S8]
West 49 Inc WXX.TO said it received an interim order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to proceed with a special shareholders' meet to consider the Canadian retailer's proposed takeover by Australia's Billabong International Ltd BBG.AX. [ID:nSGE66L0RK]
Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]
* Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) price target raised to C$72 from C$70; rating outperform at Raymond James
* Osisko Mining (OSK.TO) price target raised to C$14.50 from C$12.70; rating speculative buy at Canaccord Genuity
* Shoppers Drug Mart SC.TO price target cut to C$39 from C$42; rating market perform at Raymond James
* Toromont Industries (TIH.TO) started with sector perform rating; target price of C$28 at National Bank
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Bangalore newsroom, editing by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay and Jeffrey Hodgson