January 27, 2011 / 2:03 PM / 6 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX set to open flat; soft gold, oil offset Potash

4 Min Read

Jan 27 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks looked set to open little changed on Thursday, as lower gold and oil prices and weak U.S. jobless claims data offset strong profit gains at Potash Corp. (POT.TO), the world's top fertilizer maker.

Factors to Watch

* Canadian equity futures <0#SXF:> pointed to a flat open.

* U.S. stock index futures turned negative on Thursday after the U.S. jobless claims data showed employment remains a challenge for the U.S. economy. [.N]

* Gains in mining sector shares helped European shares edged higher after a softer start, although a downgrade of Japan's credit rating by Standard & Poor's limited gains. [.EU]

* Asian stocks were mixed with shares in with Shanghai's key stock index up for a second day gaining 1 percent, but fresh measures to cool China's real estate market knocked property stocks lower.

Commodity Price Moves

* The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index .CRB, a global commodities benchmark, rose 3.22 percent in early trade.

* U.S. crude oil futures prices briefly extended losses on Thursday in choppy trading after a report showed initial jobless claims rose last week. [O/R]

* Gold fell more than 1 percent as physical demand retreated, and after comments on inflation from a euro zone official supported the view that euro zone interest rates could rise sooner than expected. [GOL/]

* Copper rose and tin hit a record high on tightening supplies, but copper's gains looked fragile near-term as a holiday approached in top metals consumer China. [MET/L]

Canadian Stocks to Watch

* Potash Corp. (POT.TO): The world's top fertilizer maker said on Thursday that its quarterly profit more than doubled, as a surge in grain prices boosted crop nutrient demand and allowed the company to raise prices on key products. [ID:nN27232194]

* Points International Ltd. PTS.TO: The E-commerce and technology services provider expects 2011 revenue to jump more than a fourth, driven by its core currency services business. [ID:nSGE70Q09L]

* Centric Energy CTE.V: The East Africa-focused exploration firm said it had completed an agreement to farm out to Tullow Oil Plc a 50 percent interest in Centric's Block 10BA in north-western Kenya. [ID:nLDE70Q03T]

* Methanex Corp. MX.TO: The company posted fourth-quarter profit that lagged market estimates, hurt by lower production. [ID:nSGE70Q09I]

* Celestica Inc. (CLS.TO): The contract manufacturer reported an 18 percent rise in adjusted quarterly profit on Thursday. [ID:nSGE70Q08T]

* Research In Motion RIM.TO: The BlackBerry maker on Thursday said there was no possibility of providing India access to corporate emails on BlackBerry devices. [ID:nSGE70Q04Z]

* Imax Corp. IMX.TO: The big-screen movie company is brushing aside rumors of a takeover by Walt Disney for the time being, CEO Richard Gelfond said on Thursday. [ID:nWLA3742]

* Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. SC.TO: Canada's No. 1 pharmacy chain said on Wednesday that President and CEO Jurgen Schreiber is resigning, effective Feb. 15. [ID:nN26187339]

Analyst Recommendations

Following is a summary of research actions on Canadian companies reported by Reuters. [RCH/CA]

* Badger Daylighting BAD.TO rating cut to hold from buy at Canaccord Genuity

* Bear Creek Mining Corp (BCM.V) price target raised to C$15.25 from C$14.75 at Raymond James

* Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) rating cut to hold from buy at Stifel

* CGI Group GIBa.TO price target raised to C$22 from C$20 at Raymond James

* Suncor Energy (SU.TO) rating cut to hold from buy at Stifel

* Uranium One UUU.TO rating cut to market perform from outperform at Raymond James ($1= $0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Kishan Nair and Bangalore Newsroom; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)

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